Archive for the 'literature' Category

Silent Tsunami

May 6, 2019

Explain this to me. Hamlet has been here
for two months now, shuffling around in
the gloomy recesses of Elsinore—dreaming of
a giant wave in a sea of troubles—and now,
all he wants to do is get the swords out and duel
in the surf. It seems he’s been taking lessons—
The better to smite you with, my dear—
and he will practice with Satan himself
if it will make his mind congenial to ghosts.
He wants to become a force majeure , my silent friend,
the waves of which might blow the sea into an eerie calm,
the gulls of which might fly far overhead in patterns
known only to themselves—flying lonely,
in a chariot of salts, pirouetting night
and day and backwards from day to night.

*

The sea withdraws its breath. The sand becomes
a dry protracted grave. All the living creature
flee back into the mountains—birds and dogs,
butterflies and bees. Those that remain

are lost in a single, silent perception.

 

Wallace Stevens: Adorning the Rock

May 5, 2019

 

This is the longest piece I ever wrote. I published it on extrasimile in four parts. it also appeared (and still appears, though it difficult to find) on00 arduity.com. You will be forgiven if you don’t read it, but it is something of f an Ars Poetica for me.

 

 

 

Donald Hall goes right to the point: I see no reason to spend your life writing poems unless your goal is to write great poems. Steven Spender is equally succinct: I think continually of those who were truly great./ Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history.

Great Poetry is Difficult Poetry, but…

It seems an unimpeachable point. Maybe we could quibble over this ‘soul’s history’ stuff, but who wants to write a mediocre poem? Who, indeed, takes pencil and paper in hand with the intention of writing something merely passable? No one’s forcing you to do this, pal. You can be a commonplace anything. Why write poetry? You’d be better off practicing guitar chords or working on your jump shot.

I won’t get cute here. We all know the evil answer to this question lurks in Hall’s ‘your goal’. We all know there is a great gulf between trying to write a great poem and writing a great poem.

Substitute the word ‘difficult’ for ‘great’ in both Donald Hall’s and Steven Spender’s sentences and you will find an interesting shift in meaning. Let’s face it, if you go through life aspiring to be difficult, all you accomplish is that you’ll stop getting invited to parties. As a goal for your poems, being merely difficult does not seem sufficient-whereas being great does. Still, we do think a great poem is a difficult poem, do we not? Difficulty suggests complexity of vision, insightfulness, a penetration of subject matter, an attempt to wring something from our quotidian lives that makes those lives worth living. A difficult poem attempts to tell us something we don’t want to hear. A difficult poem at least has the potential to be great that an ‘easy’ poem does not. Name one poem that’s great and easy. While they are clearly not identical, if we are going to understand the great poem there is a good chance we are going to have to get there through the door of the difficult poem. Besides, anybody can write a difficult poem.

Why are you doing this to yourself?


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A Dumb Show

April 3, 2019

Horatio is braggadocio
Personified. It’s hard to believe.
One minute, he’s cool as a mule,
The next it’s like he has invented silence—
But it’s a good silence, a probing silence
A void devoid of what Claudius needs—
A good cheerleader. When All the King’s Men,
Get together again to play the play,
The Murder of Gonzago—a play proforma—
When they come to castle—yes, you could say
It was like a chess move—they find
A king, lost in a world of choices, open to love
Open to time, to history, whatever.
Horatio, don’t brag, this brave new world
Could be a beautiful place if we could
Let it become a dumb show. Let it be
The quest itself. Let it be linked to a certain
detour.  Let it be like a troop of drooping
Crusaders marching back to England
Just in time for a new Crusade. \

This Jolly Rogue (A Dream Language)

March 23, 2019

Just as sleep can become a rock, only
A jolly rogue can become a dream language
large enough for what a nightmare stands for.
For what are dreams if not the ground
We stand and fight for, eh Horatio?\
And what a stone is, is what a rock can be
When divided too many times—pebbles, sand,
Infinity’s poundage, even a sea of waves—
To make no man a man, or at least to make
A man ground, porous and abiding.

 Horatio, our voyage is poised by the sea.
Its purpose is to provide a resting place

For me (that is, as secure as Claudius’ wife.)
We shall not be allowed a whip or whale
For a while…Besides it’s only pirates who can
cbh
Save us both from the pirated souls of
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. So, stand
Abaft the stern, Horatio. This Jolly Rogue
Will sink all of Denmark; it will let me bury and\
Beguile
redream a kingdom yet to come. 

.

Topiary

March 6, 2019

 

(in a)
river of seas
(in an)
illogic of white waters
So cold now
(in a) simple C

for smoke
(in)

me bubbles—
a breviary

of illness
(it’s)
seeds to me `

The Weariness of the Spider

February 25, 2019

1.

Like hunters shooting at stars too far
from earth, the weariness of the spider
is like a dying panther caught
in a trap at the edge of the savanna
as morning surrenders
to the anger of the sun.

2.

As you burn your brand into
the vastness of the savanna.
I will burn my brand into your skin.
My eminence will trap you
and you will be caught
like I was  caught.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

3.

The spider is a weary lioness
who sits at the fringes of the savana
and thinks, despite the sun’s acuity
she will wait until night to eat.
The stars  will be visible then
And  the hunters  will think
their light is the same light
that shines in her  eyes.

The School of Pure Conversation

February 17, 2019

The Entire of Elsinore

February 16, 2019

A gravedigger need not be grave. Nor need
He be alone. Horatio stood alone and grave;
Hamlet had wanted him to ‘stay center stage,’
As he put it. ‘Sententious, stentorian
And smiling.’ Elsinore was a war.

Now he wanted more. ‘A play is the thing.
To kill a king’. He wanted real proof before
He and Yorick could ‘off the fool’. He wanted
‘A truth with truth’. And more. Horatio knew
What was wrong. That fucking ghost could be

Just about anything, a stray specter,
A glint of light in the wrong eye, a rip in
In God’s fabric, anything. Anselm’s proof
Of God had proved it all. Existence was
That which cannot be allowed to fall.

But soft…for a mise-en-abysm to work—
And this is surely what Hamlet must have had
In mind—a crazy quilt of reflections
Would have to be in place. The entirety
Of Elsinore’s sin would be needed. El-sin-ore.

 

A Most Excellent Fancy

February 12, 2019

I

Horatio believed the laws of heaven
Should be obsequious to the laws of earth.
God coughed. Only the lonely holy boy
Believed that god was stretched beyond Himself.
God loomed. God boomed. The land began to pitch…

The ghost was unhouseled, disappointed,
And unannealed when he died. He was
Condemned to walk the earth in chains, plagued
By illusions. He needed the night to end.
Horatio needed indulgences for the king.

In a cloud made radiant by the sun.
Like a turtle digging a nest for eggs.
Only to release them into the frenzy.
Of sinful murdering crows. Dependent
On tides, on winds, the moon: gravity. .

Few turtles escaped into the sea.
On horseback Horatio escaped to Rome.
You could buy an Indulgence for the dead there.
He would free Hamlet if he could crown
Hamlet’s fathet dead—a most excellent fancy.

The Bird of Dawning Singeth All Night Long

February 10, 2019

 

Horatio dreamed indifferently when
He slept alone—which was most nights. His bed
In Wittenberg was narrow and spartan,
but his dream this night was more like a song
made special by the maid, Ophelia. He dreamed

of Hamlet’s face, wounded and bleeding and poisoned.
Ophelia sang in a hushed whisper:
The bird of dawning Singeth all night long.
The bird of dawning Singeth all night long.
Over and over, she sang: a sentence too short

for the very reflexiveness the words
implored—Horatio’s dream tragedy
of Hamlet’s dream of Ophelia.
The very artifice of her bright song
would lead them to their death.

The cock began to crow. All was not right
in Denmark. Horatio lay panting.
He had come all this way to witness
his friend’s death. Barnardo awaited,
Hamlet awaited, Silence awaited.