He was a wise man who invented beer. ~Plato..................
[ Black Tulip ; New Holland, Holland, MI ]......................
The Search for Lost Lives
I was chasing this blue butterfly down
the road when a car came by and clipped me.
It was nothing serious, but it angered me and
I turned around and cursed the driver who didn't
even slow down to see if I was hurt. Then I
returned my attention to the butterfly which
was nowhere to be seen. One of the Doubleday
girls came running up the street with her toy
poodle toward me. I stopped her and asked,
"Have you seen a blue butterfly around here?"
"It's down near that birch tree near Grandpa's,"
she said. "Thanks," I said, and walked briskly
toward the tree. It was fluttering from flower
to flower in Mr. Doubleday's extensive garden,
a celestial blueness to soothe the weary heart.
I didn't know what I was doing there. I certain-
ly didn't want to capture it. It was like
something I had known in another life, even if
it was only in a dream, I wanted to confirm it.
I was a blind beggar on the streets of Cordoba
when I first saw it, and now, again it was here.
I wish somebody would give me
a couple of live panda bears.
After all these years I deserve them.
Yesterday I nearly went insane
searching for a toucan:
“No toucans!” everywhere I went.
One son-of-a-bitch even went so far
as to say: “Toucans are filthy,
disgusting birds, terrible pets;
and on the endangered list besides.”
And I said, then I’ll take the last one,
I’ll be responsible; my pets
don’t have to bow and scrape to me.
We are equals, this I believe,
so give me the pandas.
Penny Along the Ottawa
Antic blooms atop trees grizzled
about the turnpike, emeralds proximal
to urban sputter, hopeful travelers,
taupe birds buttoned out of habit.
What else can accompany spring
funneled arterial by triple cadence,
doorless patio puddles, partial tones
of purple.. sunset panned ephiphanic.
So there's that. Ponderous backdrop
for what we create. Windup homes
where dogged nickles shirt pockets
payable to minute gasps exhibiting life
in captious shift-- flummoxed blusters,
umpteenth arrangements indelicately
torqued. To elevate, to recede, however
glum rivers laugh as gravitas currents
sally emotion to equanimous shore,
her note imitates in a way the wind
piffling through clueless borders,
void of newscasts only minutes ago.
All the Lloyd Georges of Babylon
Were utterly forgotten by history.
The Briands of Egypt or Assyria,
The Trotskys of this or that colony
Of ancient Greece or Rome
Are dead names, though writ in stone.
Only a fool who makes poems
Or a mad inventor of philosophies
Or an eccentric geometrician
Will survive the vast unimportance
Of what's left behind, in the dark,
And which not even history remarks.
O you great men of the Moment!
O great and ardent glories
Of those who flee obscurity!
Enjoy what you have and don't think!
Cherish your fame and good food,
For tomorrow belongs to today's fools!
I daydream, far from my cozy
Self-awareness as a man.
I don't know who my soul is,
Nor does it know who I am.
Understand it? It would take time.
Explain it? Don't know if I can.
And in this misunderstanding
Between who I am and what is I
There's a whole other meaning
Lying between earth and sky.
It that gap is born the universe.
With suns and stars past counting.
It has a profound meaning,
Which I know. It's outside me.
We are all bound together in a tapestry that like the sea gives the impression of movement towards something but is actually just a maternal body of material...
The flowers buzz when the vibration of the bees stimulates their pistons and their molecules swell and their petals hum like cellos. Rocks are alive, the firstborn of the natural world, somber without will.
There is no freedom from this universe we were born into, because it is our vague source of sensation, our soul, the container of our guilt.
Skins liquefy in heat. And when a bald baby swallow dies on your palm, you feel warmth pouring over your skin, a kind of burning fountain that scalds you like pepper spray.
Do you think this is a sign of the spirit ripping its energy into you to carry to the other side? I do. There are no actual objects over there, no materials but unformed steaming clouds, colors that harmonize musically, no gravity exists but elasticity composed of invisible images.
--from 'The Child's Child', The Needle's Eye: Passing through Youth; Fanny Howe
To return to infancy: to be without speech.
The threshold between Eden and Heaven.
Ground and cloud.
Hollowed out, each image will lose its definition bit by bit.
An infant in Purgatory still covers her head with swaddling
Or is it the sunlight lying on the floor?
We try to domesticate our spirits like children.
We chase and chastise them until they change.
We spend our lives trying to release them again.
Time can be told in the opening of a flower,
Trumpet of dawn, flugelhorn of the sun
Sinking down. Noiseless explosions
Greet an attentive eye. And the ear
Is a flower, too, a welcome home for echoes,
Kisses, and cackles. Cauldron of starlight,
Tincture and blaring cry, whatever brushes
Your senses unlatches a doorway
Scoured by salt, vanishing as you plunder
The coffers of sleep. So you will know
What it means to be utterly free, floating
Without a hope, floating in hope, a medium
Fit for the being you have become, given
The bed you have made, the race you won.
An Anthology of Rain
For this you may see no need,
You may think my aim
Dead set on something
Devoid of conceivable value:
An Anthology of Rain,
A collection of voices
Telling someone somewhere
What it means to follow a drop
Traveling to its final place of rest.
But do consider this request
If you have pressed your nose
Of any shape against a window,
Odor of metal faint, persistent,
While a storm cast its cloak
Over the shoulder of every cloud
In sight. You are free to say
Whatever crosses your mind
When you look at the face of time
In the passing of one drop
Gathering speed, one drop
Chasing another, racing to reach
A fork in the path, lingering
Before making a detour to join
Another, fattening on the way
Until entering a rivulet
Running to the sill.
So please accept this invitation:
You are welcome to submit,
There is no limit to its limit,
Even the instructions are a breeze
As long as you include
Nothing about yourself
Except your name. Your address
Remains unnecessary, for the rain
Will find you — if you receive it
It receives you (whether or not
You contribute, a volume
Is sent). And when you lift
The collection you may hear,
By opening anywhere, a drop
And its story reappear
As air turns to water, water to air.
This World is not Conclusion (373)
This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond -
Invisible, as Music -
But positive, as Sound -
It beckons, and it baffles -
Philosophy, dont know -
And through a Riddle, at the last -
Sagacity, must go -
To guess it, puzzles scholars -
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown -
Faith slips - and laughs, and rallies -
Blushes, if any see -
Plucks at a twig of Evidence -
And asks a Vane, the way -
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit -
Strong Hallelujahs roll -
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul -
I love humor, I love stand-up comedy, I love the mental acrobatics that an intricate joke requires and the pay-off it provides. I suppose I think that these two things are so close to one another. I am sincerely invested in your happiness when I work earnestly at making you laugh. Telling a joke is so kind, it is something we do to improve the lives of others....
In a wider sense, I think I would very literally die (I am not trying to make a book-title joke) if I resigned myself to humorlessness. “The news” would simply crush me. Wall Street would crush me. And in my helplessness and inability to heal and laugh with others, it would be easier for every Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin to legislate me out of their America. I want to laugh so that later I can get angry like I need to get. I want to make and think something funny and tender and kind so that I recognize the opposite when it comes for me, so that I can say “No” to a corporation, so that I cannot buy what someone means to sell me. Poetry is so high stakes. Humor is wholly tied up in those stakes for me.
Unapologetic Poem (for E. White)
There are reasons to ride a bike not
related to joy. But you don’t believe in not
believing. I believe in blaming everything
on the highway, big dumb highway sliding
toward conclusions. One of you and one
of me, to be numerous. We handle
ourselves like some kind of gospel. I go
for a walk to tell you about this terrible
dream involving wolves. You and I
went down into the cave. We went down
like we knew what we were doing. We
went down and it mattered. Everything
matters when you are reverently displaced.
But you don’t say anything
about moving through all those stars.
The Danger of Wisdom
We learn to live without passion.
To be reasonable. We go hungry
amid the giant granaries
this world is. We store up plenty
for when we are old and mild.
It is our strength that deprives us.
Like Keats listening to the doctor
who said the best thing for
tuberculosis was to eat only one
slice of bread and a fragment
of fish each day. Keats starved
himself to death because he yearned
so desperately to feast on Fanny Brawne.
Emerson and his wife decided to make
love sparingly in order to accumulate
his passion. We are taught to be
moderate. To live intelligently.
Obsidian. Sturgeon. Infatuated angels.
Which only we can translate into flesh.
The language to which we alone are native.
Our own bait. We are spirits housed in meat,
instantly opaque to the Lord. As Jesus.
We go into the deadfall of the body,
our hearts in their marvelous cases
and discover new belfries everywhere.
I continued toward the Minotaur keep
the thread taut. And suddenly, now,
immense flowers are coloring all
my stalked body. Making wine of me.
As bells get music of metal in the rain.
The prey I am willingly prospers.
The exile that comes on comes too late.
I go to it as Adam, singing across paradise.
...I got off the van without saying goodnight.
Goodnight would be full of inexpressible love.
They went on in their transport, they left me on earth.
Then, a few yards ahead, the van stopped. A man
shouted at me through the transport window.
I walked up towards him. He held out something.
A pack of cigarettes had dropped from my pocket.
He gave it to me. I felt closer to tears.
There was nothing they wanted, nothing I could give them
but this thing I have called “The Light Of The World.”
--from 'Light of the World'; Derek Walcott (1930 - 2017)
When experiencing wonder, it feels as though we know something without quite being sure of what we know. (You know how it is, when you don’t quite know what the “it” is.) Since Aristotle noted in the Poetics that wonder is central to poetic art, many have made similar claims: in the 1550s Antonio Minturno — the first writer to treat the lyric as a genre on par with the epic and the dramatic — wrote that “no one can be called a poet who does not excel in the power of arousing wonder”; four hundred years later, Auden claimed that “whatever its actual content and overt interest, every poem is rooted in imaginative awe.” While lyrics may come from a wondrous unknowingness, they don’t seem able to rest with or in a state of “not precisely knowing not.” On the one hand, the work of lyric poems testifies to a need for abstraction, or sense, or knowledge, to a need to go over experience in order to seek out a certain distance and clarity. But even as the poem undertakes this expressive work, the embodied motion of the seeking seems to recommit poet and reader to bafflement, immersion, confusion. This mixed state of affairs helps to account for the coalescence of excitement and pathos — the beautiful and the bleak — one often feels in lyric encounters. Lyrics contain an elegiac feeling: one revisits experience, seeks a shape in which to know it, but the shape that is created brings with it wonder at the fact that no experience can ever quite be known. Lyrical abstraction reconnects us to, and re-alienates us from, our experience in a single moment.