The Poet Retells a Certain Debate

it is addressed thusly:
A vision.
it reads:
An argument they had, those two
The poet and the sage had an argument;
'A heated discussion', some said or knew
But that debate is not its denouement;

The sage had said, of which we dread
To say to one who breathes of poetry
Who breathed or heard or read
That poetry was a form of femininity?

'Which is to say,' he apologized
'The poet does not at all initiate
Not that his work is trivialized'
But such trivial words came far too late;

The poet scoffed, or was it coughed --
And considered the proper way to retaliate
I suppose if war, war-clothes be doffed
And full-alarm be made the state;

'If I may be excused to take offense,
Let it be that falsehoods were spoken
Or very least a full pretence
That vows or oaths were broken.

'I need no such excuse to words obtuse
And ill-formed in their conception
To return a form of rough abuse
To bring wrath to perfection.

'It may be so, as all poets may know
That a poet must work with inspiration
But this work does not work below
It is a work of perspiration.'

The sage replied, and as might sighed
Perhaps noting labor and conception
As to childbearing each severally applied
So poets might know correction;

'It is a conscious work of mind
Of mind and soul and spirit
Though it and conception are alike in kind
Henceforth it is not near it.

'A child is made, as might be said
When the watchmen are all sleeping
But the poem is hewed forth from the head
Only when his vigil he's keeping.'

Still in mind, the sage in kind
Said that as with all works created
It may in thinking action refined
It is still not initiated.

'Because the poem is superfluous
It cannot be but a creative spasm
The builder fills the gap with truss
To bridge, to master, to fill the chasm.

'The poet may keep silence today
And tomorrow his wordless stance retract
For mere reaction could not stay
And then -- denouement -- stand and act.'


The Orator to his Reflection

it is addressed thusly:
A thought.
it reads:
Let us not pray as the Pharisee -
To consider ourselves worthy
To look up before the face of God
Do you find it odd that I call myself wretch
Is it too harsh? In such case
Fetch yourself a tissue now
That I may allow
A time and place
For you to come to see
Your mistaken misanthropy
That falling before ideal dignity
That you think man still has
Alas! He can regain it but
The same, one by one by one
The game - he lost it long ago
Did you know - the story about
The lady and the snake? Take
A moment and read it again
Focault can wait but the snake
Has no patience at all,
Though he suffers long this and long he is
As he is trodden down
Can one truly drown
A hatred inside a love? Perhaps
Enough, but not a simple disdain
Hatred is fire and love is too
But look a moment from the pool
Do you tire
To gain your own reflection?
It is but a misdirection unless
Pain and suffering come and kiss
That countenance of ours
And immense, the bars
Of our prison invisible
Arise all around ! and that sound
That groan --
Is no more than for which a Publican
Is justly known.



it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
Ledger, ruler, slate and chalk
The old man set them all aside
The guard called, 'we need to talk.'
And turning, broke his stride
'At last the master is called to account
For his keeping such a man as you'
Or what did in truth simply amount
To what the old man already knew
'Tell his daughter to remember well
All that I have taught her here
How to figure and how to spell
All knowledge man holds dear'
And he put upon his neck the shawl
Tattered, was his yoke to bear
And stood against the further wall
'Tell her also to beware --
And remember most the very last
To keep always upon her breath
As I see my life is already past
That life must live again in death
That God is dead - but death instead
Has died and immortality
Comes to those who without dread
Follow the path of Deity.'
The guard nodded, and opened the gate
And stooping undid the iron bands
And although the hour was late
Knelt and kissed the elder's hands
'Son,' said he, 'A time will come
When I too will join the tales of myth
And my memory will be lost to some
Who will misunderstand my discourse with
The master's daughter, and our love
As too I love you as my son
And though Ignatius has written of
How this Eros is made undone
Crucified!' And blessed the man
Who then led him forth in solemnity
And down corridor he led chain in hand
And said, 'Is that a prophecy?'
The ancient one just smiled and strode
Up the gibbet's staid incline
Those there but say when they behold,
"Hail to the elder, Hail Valentine!'


The Day

it is addressed thusly:
A song.
it reads:
Live not for today, that brings only sorrow
If you should live, live then for to-morrow;
For if it should come, and coming yet it may
You will regret having lived only for today.



it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
"Craft, as we may say, as long as we are saying
Is often thought a trickery, simply an old chicanery
And this is not untrue you see, as far as it may be
For deception is a craft, as is any old persuading;
But when the fixed relating is somewhat one to one
Between the making subject and the object he has made
We begin to behold a custom in the way the lines are laid
A customary way of making, as with how my words are spun
The hand or its extension, the nerve and muscle tension
A tacit understanding of where the blows are landing
For the tool here utilized can be overly misleading
Perhaps some disbelief in case will need some wee suspending;
But when the unskilled limbs which cut the leaves and trims
Are no more overseen, if perhaps they'd ever been
The craft here then must cease, if you catch what I may mean
And mere copies are produced until the vision dims;
But when the hand moves cautiously and cuts only judiciously
And thought is then expressed in how the form's impressed
Upon the many other forms, my critique is then redressed
a form from thought well-cast" - he laughed - "This alone is Craft. "


The Orator explains the West

it is addressed thusly:
A thought.
it reads:
A society of petty vanguards, he said
Was what in time we had become
From mere novelty innovation was dead
Freedom for license, the Many for the one
And the one in time, what had it become?

Once, he continued, man is individualized
Classified and set down in a grid
That each fills but one slot, commoditized
Unique in preference, history and id
But here the mask had slightly slid;

Group identity, and the much feared family
A criminal thing, the latter at very least
The former fine as long as in simile
It could be reduced to the very least
And with money its politic appeased.

These all had to go, in the name of freedom
As though all the sailors were cast aright
Into the sea to swim; and then right quick some
Life preservers were to be issued quite
Inefficiently but shown just and right.

The mighty states with machines for hands
Turned against one another in gray twilight
Ravaging the far and the nearest lands
Until the one came and set the might
To rest before the howling night;

Even these poets, who fought rightly against
This making man a pawn for play
Had for all their fury just recompense
For they had often helped the sway
Of these very men who won the day.

The one wears a mask of this poetry
Of sentiment about expressions new
And of man's undefinability
So long as no one thought or knew
A different definition true.

But beneath a mechanism cold
Knows what man is, as it hums
Slowly processes the young and old
And turns even mansions into slums
Until the King in all His brightness, comes.


The Poet's Alibi

it is addressed thusly:
A song.
it reads:
I hear a distant music, and sing
If it seems like I speak from a distance;
To some the song is perhaps inside
Or living like fire in another person;
Each would seem to have his reason
To sing, or at least to shout or moan
I do not pretend to understand or know
Whether this is right or wrong withal
We reserve then our judgment
Saving it like fuel or purest gold
For a winter less warm and a season
Of less money than we have.

I hear this distant music, sometimes
On a soundless wind it breathes
I mean; It has not that sort of sound
If thought has sound is what I mean;
Do others hear it in a dark, rich tone?
I cannot of this claim to begin to know
But knowledge is not thus uncertain
Just that there are uncertain things
Some things have of them certainty
As there is day and night in turn
As hot and cold and woman and man
There is fact and mystery.

The music is not tame, but moves
As if record turned upon itself
Without an end or a beginning
But everlong and every color
Teasing a melody from it must be
A task others labor over word and verse
To achieve; as this I also do not know
But the symbol, I say, I know it
It is not with every tambre and hue
Either rainbow or cacophony
Forgetting the connected sense
And its moral indignation.

It is not then, an amoral thing
This music, I think I said before
But our care it cares not for
Taking and breaking it all in two
In other wor(l)ds this matters not
I wonder if others realize this?
We strive to rise above the din
Of our own thoughts noisome haze
Of the days; but cannot and so bring
To the feet of God every broken dream
Which are the stars, the poet says
You tread beneath your feet.