The Poet's Dream, VI

it is addressed thusly:
A fragment.
it reads:
"'Listen friend, be loath to ascend
For worse things await than to die
Your world will have a bitter end
It will not be yours; the other does lie!'
And forgetting I, how I did respond
To his fierce and bitter query
My sight arose, and moved beyond
To new vision, a deeper theory."

And now to news he was drawn
And to it he did attend
By now his dream was all but gone
If not before it did send
Ahead of the poet a secret snare
A sudden jolt to remember new
Beyond there, each passing care
And his diligence renew.


The Sneer

it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
That sneer, you can see it everywhere
A proper rhyme is not required
For proper rhymes it is not wired
Though the reader laughs, perhaps
Out loud? Rarely enough for us
To wonder if it is really wondrous
Or if it isn't just mockery
When everything is free, supposedly
Or at least already paid for
Nothing has any value at all
Which might be beautiful
But instead of a criteria of worth
Which might befit a thing of earth
Not measured of credit counts
Worse, what is worst amounts
To insincerity, call it mere flippancy
And you aren't half wrong, friend
For the joke is its desired end
Not a punchline, but the sneering
Of a million judging eyes all peering
To wait, to stop, for the other shoe to drop
To see all, the spectacle, but in case
Someone thinks us crude, off base
It's all in fun, so therefore everyone
Laugh silently with us! And soon appear
To carry with the rest, that shibboleth,
The sneer.

That sneer, close cousin to the leer
In private thought is proof of wit
But we may say, be done with it;
For those whose eyes see its current rise
In their favor now, find cause to vaunt
Find reason for their cause to flaunt
Because vainglory is the mob's laws
As vanity is for the elite
May find the tide turn in a beat
And what is called 'self evidency'
Will suddenly be quite oddly hard to see
What sort of requests can be made of sophists
That their speeches might be constrained
To be made just truth-contained?
None, and for twisting all truth is but one
Of its arts, whether the truth be simple fact
Or flowing from an unseen cataract
For what is quickly misunderstood
Is at times the wisdom most pure and good
The art of shortly saying is well paying
But few do it well who do it
And much of the use of it
Is simply to say more flippant things a day
The madness is quite too much to hear
For it is never spoken, lest its spell be broken,
The sneer.

The sneer it may be said and finished here,
Is to invent what is really just a clever fence
A personal criteria of valid evidence
A protection against the harsh events
That occur when one states with sincerity
What one holds as 'the things that be'
Over and against a mob of men
White masked clowns more than gentlemen
So that the next who speaks strong and sincere
May safely, finally be put to rest there
And that mask doff that will at last not come off
Finally truly to have your anonymity,
And no longer be 'strange' or 'queer',
But become, with everyone,
A sneer.


The Poet's Dream, V

it is addressed thusly:
A fragment.
it reads:
"A coal that burns against the dark
An arrow that does not miss its mark
A hand that heals and holds to bind
A chill, enshrouding winter wind
An ancient lamp embossed with youth
A mighty arm endowed with ruth
A darkness seeing, searching eye
A flame with dancing sparks that fly
A foot to crush a serpent's head
A word soft-uttered, a breath of dread
A tattered coat worn with merry might
An arc that makes all-bright the night
A spinning band of golden worth
A brazen horn now sounding forth;

Seven and seven, mark them all
Know which of them, which shall fall?
(Spoke the dweller -- against the wall)
Ye who hear me not, to these I call
I need not best you, nor hand stall
Perish the unhearing,
         perish them all!"

And some sort of afternoon malaise
Then made our poet forget his days
And fall to napping's confounded haze
Nodding into dreaming's misty maze.


The Hymns

it is addressed thusly:
An ode
it reads:
These hymns of the church
Whose verses lumber and lurch
Against those mellifluous rows
Of poetry seem they but prose
And the psalms too,
Had noticed it, you?
One man called them rocks in a sling
Which crush to dust each passionate thing
These, oddly metered as well
Drive hard to the border of hell
Whereat they stay, but cease to despair
Smashing the gates that stand brazenly there.


The Poet's Dream, IV

it is addressed thusly:
A fragment.
it reads:
"To dweller deep, did promise keep
And pull him from his prison
Offered he then logic's leap
Which did demand decision."

And with this writ a stomach's snit
Began to give him worry
To fast he would, but not with it
Making memory more blurry;
A sandwich quick, would do the trick
But would he have to hurry!


The Poet's Dream, III

it is addressed thusly:
A fragment
it reads:
"A far descent beneath I went
To country hot and burning
Helped who dwelt by whom was sent
Free of desire's yearning."

His guest had found the cup of salt
Which he had come to borrow
But at this rate, he would have to halt
He thought, until tomorrow
Discouraged by the garrulous and generous of speech
To leave him soon, this was the boon, that he did beseech.


The Poet's Dream, II

it is addressed thusly:
A fragment.
it reads:
"Deep below the roots still grow
Though petrified and dead
And meek of wrath the path I go
Through the tractless and the dread."

And now he thought, so hard he'd fought
To relight but an ember
Of the fire his head had brought
To slumber and remember
But with dots this page was marked
And crude the verses seemed to him
Such a fading bow had arced
Gone as with the wind.
And now who called, whose voiced had bawled
He exclaimed, 'Come in, come in!'


A Note.

In this era, my poetry will doubtless be considered irrelevant. As of late poetry is considered relevant inasmuch as it makes pretense towards some form of activism. It's not whether or not poets are or ought to make verses about that which concerns them; but whether or not the poet considers themselves an agent of policy, even indirectly.

This is not to say that I am wholly amoral or apolitical, certainly it is impossible while yet merely a man to be 'one without a polis' as a wise man once told a young Greek. But it is simply that I have always sought to carry those things lightly, like a banner, and my sins and failings heavily, like a cross.

This approach, though without a doubt never universal, has always been available; and it is itself wholly unpopular in our time. We have for our part a reversal of the words of Christ, that is, to gain or save the whole world, if only at the cost of one's soul. But saved for what? My thoughts continue on this always, when seeing any spare thing, any pattern or growth or withering-away.

One writer thought it wise to put in the words of a character, "The world is full of lies, so I decided to think for myself." But it is not, as one day a character of my own will say, not the world that lies; for the world hasn't the gumption to even mislead. It is mankind that lies, and when he fails to see the Earth spinning against the sun he blames nature for being inscrutable. It is not as though thinking for one's self is a virtue. It is a necessity. Eating is a necessity, but it would not be called a virtue. And finding the worst liar is easy; it only takes a mirror and a quick count of the number of lies we've believed and who they came from.

Again the popular thing is to carry politics and heredity and culture like a cross and sin like a banner; and so poetry reads less like a romance and more like an obituary. It is not surprising in the least that there is little music in much of it; and in saying this I place myself against many of my contemporaries, even some whom I personally respect because they are better men than I both in letters and character. In this vein, we also see some good poets waste themselves in anger and lust, without the decency that some pop lyricists had of rolling the whole thing in a healthy and redeemable metaphor or at least a palatable euphemism.

No, I cannot stomach any of it, I can hardly chew it or even bear to taste it. So instead I learned how to write my own, since I learned to make that which I wanted but could not find. It is telling that we find ourselves unable to call spoken poetry 'music' on one hand, because it is angry, and unwilling to laugh about the meanness of our upbringing when men of past times sung about how good it was to be alive.

It is on this same pattern we find all sorts of maladies of our culture, not to pretend that cultures in older times had not maladies of their own. But it would simply be that they had some other malady, as the doctor would not treat you for your grandfather's long-gone case of the Measles. We complain of blood in the water when the plague has certainly moved on to frogs.

The general gist of this note then is, that I am not a modern poet. I am not even a post-modern poet; you cannot, like a fence, attach any number of posts to the modern and reach me. I am not in the yard. If a man looks back far enough, he can find the kernels of each of the modern conceits, but shown in a more sensible scale. Free verse was there. Prose-poetry was there. Doggerel, even bizarre abstractions. Bulls and odd associations nigh abounded. But why were they so different? I have no time to say here. I would first have to tackle the giant of stock responses and proper affections. I would either need a small but strong word like a smooth stone, or a whole army of them armed with sharp spears.

The whole irony then is, that because poetry teaches affection, that people no longer seem to desire what was once good poetry is then the fault of the poets themselves. But, the poets can do nothing, since, as we might glibly say, "They didn't start the fire."  It is also the irony of the market; of the cyclical feedback. Do we need people to be more accepting of homosexuality? Is that because we create more homosexuality by exposing people to more sexuality in general? Did this also create a greater desire to procreate which resulted in more illegitimate births? Did this then make how to deal with unwanted pregnancies more pressing? And what of people being unfeeling and uncommunicative? Did we decide that they could teach themselves how to feel and communicate, and then find out they didn't? Did ultimately no-one take responsibility for this because they were too busy working for material pleasures or just material necessities? And were those whose words were spread out like the drifting seed of the dandelion to find purchase in the untilled minds of latch-key children take any responsibility or even thought for their 'self expression'? For the poisons spread in each word, now amplified thousands of times by mass communication?

As I am mortal still I must one day lay in the bed we have made, that is, lie breathless in the ground covered in the trod earth, killed as much by man's sins as by my own mortality. I cannot escape or even begin to pretend that I can address the depth of the wickedness of man. In fact, it is pointless to consider as much other than something like a fast moving car from a nice view by the highway. It has no being; and so it is a hole for beings. My own errors for sure are heavy like irons, but as heavy as that car may be, it passes like the wind, driven by a passionate, crushing heat.

It then has become my interest simply to find something to sing about, but not flippantly as one who finds wrongness somehow right. There are no felicities to sin except those felicities which were there before it. I assert it has added nothing and cannot; but rather it must be a worthy thing one sings about.

And the realization was simply this, that the world is quite full of worthy subjects, subjects worthy of a song. I can smirk all day at the ironies of every ironic response to an ill, or to an injustice, which while being better than smirking at health or justice is still mockery. When a man sees a merchant as a rogue, he is thinking to demean his character and lay low his profession. Merchants may be rogues, and indeed a given merchant may indeed be a spectacular example of the type more than his fellows. But what is worth singing about is not that injustice was done, or that justice is handily mocked, but that there is indeed a roguish man and a merchant, and that in all of this he is still a man while he is able.

So if I seem irrelevant, or foolish, or backwards, or lax, or even God forbid unsubtle, it is probable that none of these things is a pretense.

The Cat

it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
A cat is a regal reality,
Perched, purring, hardly stirring
Rangy, strangely silent should anyone
For fun, watch waiting for some
Recreating, really stating
"I observe this creature I serve
So why have I not been
Instead one who is seen
And carefully read?"