Archive for September, 2011

About Theatrum Mendacia

September 27, 2011

The origin of this poem—or at least one of the origins—came from a remark John Armstrong made on his blog about honesty and poetry.

Regular readers will know that the Bebrowed editorial board has little time for dishonest or overly mannered verse, in fact we tend to condemn dishonesty as the gravest possible sin which frequently gets in the way of otherwise accomplished work.

Now, honesty in poetry must be different than the honesty you might expect (or not expect) from the process, say, of buying a used car. For on the one hand, there is not the same type of ‘reality testing’. If that duplicitous salesman tells me that the transmission was just replaced—and it wasn’t—we can easily accuse him of lying. If I start off my poem, ‘My dog, Raoul, died when I was eight,’ it doesn’t really matter if my dog did die, or if he was called Raoul. On the other hand, given the overflow of consciousness that goes into a poem, honesty in poetry seems a very complex thing. Is it more like lying to yourself? A deep lie about yourself? An even deeper lie that your self can’t bear to know?

‘Theatrum Mendacia’ is my attempt at a dishonest poem…

Or at least it was until is wrote this.

Theatrum Mendacia

September 25, 2011

That title, it’s terrible. It sounds like
something a pumpkin head would shout
to scare the little kids at Halloween.
Or like the goat is being castrated again.

(Or it could be the stage where I steal
the shadow from the sunlight,
or the re-sounding of all

the sunlight’s gifts, until, in the current eye’s
current orderings, they become the stage
where I am either re-breathing the soft night air,

or the stink of the night soil once used to breed
life for us.) So the curtain wall is closed
yet again, eh, Mr. Pumpkinhead?

(In the Theatrum Mendacia,
you get my blood
for every show of hands, every moment, sir…
and every apple left by every Eve
and every rib left by Adam is left)…
either as applesauce and/ or as applause.



September 17, 2011

She still prefers the dance,
the gentle gesticulation, the subtle glide,
the come-hither wings as wisps
and threads…

For her to try
the language of our words
would be a revolution
spread from forest to field.

But she has stopped trying. We held out
our hands, holding the new
seriousness with the new land
in a new communion, my Queen.

We held the land, beheld the sky.
The daylight that danced in between
the dance and our dream
was another’s dream, too religious…

Her name must have been Marnia. She came
each morning to the tree to play
with dolls and paper mâché:
To her, play was so sacred, our honey was a chore.

I thought of comedy/ He tragedy—

September 14, 2011

The mosquitoes,
they know I’m here—
it’s like I’m the moon
set down in the backyard,
like I’m a big wet-sweaty
blood balloon,
here for the high tide, all aglow.

They’re big this year too,
and hungry, and breeding.
What a joy,
the ne plus ultra
of extreme experience,
a cotton candy tragedy
at the circus:
It’s like I’m the original pork rind brain,
and the mosquito is
my most fecund of thoughts.

Happy Birthday, Extrasimile!

September 13, 2011

It was September 13, 2008 when I put the first post on Extrasimile. I don’t make it a practice to look back over the entries—and I’m not going to start now—but a friend recently asked me to recommend a couple of favorites and, while I don’t know that I actually picked these two…well, come on, join me in a couple of choruses of ‘Happy Birthday’. Maybe we can get a cake later.

The World as Meditation and O Tuscan, O Wolf.

What survives thought is thought, right, darling, right?

September 10, 2011

See those starlings?  Don’t think tableau vivant
Here. Birds are just a variable, with their
So-called indifference to the blaze of light.
They are like thoughts in semaphore, they want
A tree to stay a tree, a bird to stay
A bird… but suppose starlings can return in dreams
As toucans, and semaphore can become
As alive as any sycamore tree. Let’s say
What survives thought is thought itself. Suppose
Nuts crack against the ground like jumping bullets
In a contest with gravity, that giants war
Against something too grave to be simple tableaus.
Let’s say those birds singing in the semaphore
Tree dream a little dream; that it’s a metaphor.

Sentences Sidereal

September 1, 2011

The blinds open, the curtain’s gone, the serial
Replayed each year, the TV images
So brief, the seep of seawater, relief
That only  one hurricane, lonely, fearful,
Can kill the gulls holed-up against the wind
Inside Duffy’s (semi-abandoned) Inn,
And not feel fears that Lancelot the Ghost
Will wreck the coast, for we have sinned.             .

Duffy’s mom, since her fall, can hardly walk.
Bathroom to bedroom to card table chair
To stare at the sea, its seasons. It’s spurious,
The sea, furious at being spurned again.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not with our stars.
The blinds are open, the curtain’s on Mars.