YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

February 2005

VOL XIII Issue 2, Number 142

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken
European Editor: Moshe Benarroch
Contributing Editors: Pedro Sena; Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp; Heather Ferguson; Oswald LeWinter

ISSN 1480-6401


TABLE OF CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION

   OSWALD LE WINTER
      THE SWINBURNE LECTURE, University of Fribourg, 1964 
         THE PEACEFUL USES OF POETRY  

CONTENTS

   Rebecca Lu Kiernan
      Hard Labor

   Clifford K. Watkins, Jr.
      Lab Rat
      Morning's Waking
      Hollow-Sun Reflections
      Blue-Eyed Jesus
      Faces In A Puddle
      Heaven Is Scenery

   Nancy Ellis Taylor
      Lives Like Weeds and Feral Cats
      waiting moment
      Lunch Hour: Gulf Fritillary
      One Night: Desert with Neon
      Midnight Court

   Leopold McGinnis
      Optimist
      The Golden Years
      A secret message

   Durlabh Singh
      GROW FINGERS
      REMEMBER

   duane locke
      AL FRESCO CAFź POEMS #101
      AL FRESCO CAFź POEMS #102
      AL FRESCO CAFź POEMS #103
      AL FRESCO CAFź POEMS #105
      AL FRESCO CAFź POEMS #104

   Michael Estabrook
      crashing blood-splattering collision
      pale ghost
      Patti: Purgatory Terrace Three: Anger
      Art is Chaos

   Lamont Palmer 
      Landing on the Disco Channel
      Losing Yourself
      Belinda

POST SCRIPTUM

   Averil Bones
      SCISSORS FOR STITCHES


INTRODUCTION


OSWALD LE WINTER

THE SWINBURNE LECTURE, University of Fribourg, 1964 


THE PEACEFUL USES OF POETRY by Oswald LeWinter, 

Columbia University 

1. Introduction 

In the Sewanee Review (Spring 1952), Leslie Fiedler published an insightful 
and unusually reasonable essay, "Archetype and Signature" which was intended 
to be the New Criticism's Little Big Horn while at the same time providing 
the followers of Kenneth Burke and Maud Bodkin with a frontier-style 
iconoclasm which would arouse an interest in their theories even in the
editors of The New York Review of Books. Fiedler asserted in more 
psychologically sophisticated (Jungian) terms what Renee Wellek had argued 
three years earlier, that "there is use in biographical study" if we are 
careful to make certain distinctions. While Wellek failed to specify these 
distinctions, with one exception, his insistence on keeping an "empirical 
person" separate from that which a recurrent style will delineate (Theory 
of Literature, p.79), Fiedler theorizes at least one principal distinction 
that consists chiefly in seeing words not merely in their pristine semantic 
nature, as Yvor Winters kept insisting, but as postlapsarian symbols
of an "inexhaustible totality" (No! In Thunder, p.321). 

Where Fiedler indicts the elitist establishment of the new criticism for 
its reduction of poems to semantic puzzles, Wellek diminishes the usefulness 
of his various tools by his exasperating catholicity. But while I would no 
more attempt to deny the value of Fiedler's essay as a confutatio of what 
had become tyrannical on top of being largely erroneous, I do take issue 
with those graduate schools more interested in the theory of literature 
than in literature itself, where Wellek and Warren or Elder Olsen are the 
canon. I am concerned that we should realize and continue to remember that 
there is much more to poetry than Wellek, Fiedler, Olson, the adherents of 
the Accademia Croce, and critics in general are likely to uncover.
And while critical theories are valuable within limits, they lose their 
value when they cease to be descriptive and become codified into a system of
restraints. For then, as with any establishment that orbits around vested 
interests, its chief task becomes one of protecting and perpetuating those 
interests. At such a time, criticism has ceased to take its cue from
literature and has become what Edwin Muir calls "an instrument of power" 
[that] determines standards, and dictates to the critic and to the poet" 
(The Estate of Poetry, p.76). 

It is perfectly true, that the best poets will generally resist tyrannies, 
unless they happen to conform to their own inner promptings, as is the case
with Alexander Pope. The best poets will even ignore their own restrictive 
demands on others, as Plato and T.S. Eliot do, when they sit down to write 
poetry. But for every poet who escapes to tell us what he wishes or must, 
there are many more who never find their way out of the labyrinth and who 
succumb to the arch lure of dictatorial criticism with its promise of a 
minor perfection. And those readers who remain equally trapped in a critical 
codex because it appears to give them an accepted vocabulary to replace 
the necessity of developing their own unique response to the poems
they encounter, are in still greater trouble. For them, such criticism 
narrows the landscape of poetry to a few permissible paths, as much 
criticism produced in recent years tends to do, by replacing the
immediate growth of pleasure in a poem by a method of talking about it. 
In other words, such critical establishments seek to produce professionals 
in their own image out of readers whose value for a poet resides chiefly 
in their amateur standing. But please do not misunderstand me. I am not 
denigrating the value of criticism per se. I am simply suggesting that
the sort of criticism that interposes itself between the poet or poem, 
and the reader, may do so not from any desire to be of use to him or to 
serve poetry, but rather from motives of solipsistic self-aggrandizement
and the quest for power (academic standing, grants, control of prizes and 
status in the literary establishment). 

The sort of criticism I have come to praise is contemporary in the original 
sense of that term, namely, that it tries to describe for the reader what
the poetry of his time is doing, not what it ought to do and in that effort 
it cannot help but be of great value in opening for any reader the widest 
possible door into a poem. But such criticism generally contains a caveat 
of some kind to the effect that it should not be used to replace the results 
of the reader's own complete contact with poetry (cf. Muir, Jarrell, 
Blackmur, and Ignatow ). Such criticism has become more and more rare. 

It would be convenient if one could suppose that restrictive criticism is 
a relatively recent development, as Edwin Muir seems to suggest. Yet one
can hardly ignore the fact that from earliest times there have been at 
least two kinds of critics. The first, like Plato, is motivated by his 
desire to promote or preserve a particular culture and his critical theory 
is the pugnacious expression of a unique paideia as expressed in its 
literature which, as the result of its conservative intention, becomes
prescriptive. The second type of critic, of whom Aristotle may be considered 
the primogenitor, seeks first of all to describe what already exists. In 
other words, he recognizes the precedence of literature. Only after this 
initial task has been accomplished, despite appearing as simultaneous with 
the first task, will such a critic seek to clarify the entire range of
terms even to the point of declaiming a theoretical framework. But the 
instances where such a framework cripple the poet's efforts or the reader's 
response are rare. 

One could trace criticism through its long history and assign specific names 
to each of the two types I have described, but I think it is already obvious 
from the thrust of my argument thus far that while I consider Plato a great 
poet, his criticism is less valuable and far less heuristic than Aristotle's, 
whose criticism generally serves poetry and does not try to supercede
it. But lest it seem I am about to join the neo-Aristotelian ranks of Elder 
Olson and the Chicago School, let me state at once that these critics offer
no more worthwhile paradigm for the practice of criticism and the writing 
of poetry to me than most contemporary "schools". I am unwilling to replace 
the notion of poems as verbal constructs with that of poems as amalgams of 
public myths and private symbols, or for that matter, as a series of moral 
cognates that tend to approximate some ideal as Yvor Winters insists. 
Neither can I agree with Olson ("An Outline of Poetic Theory" in Critics 
and Criticism, p. 20) that "a lyric does not have a plot" or that character
is preceded in importance by a Thomistic anangke. But before I amplify a 
number of these reservations as a prelude to my extended discussion of a 
type of poetic activity, I would like to complete a brief survey of the 
historical divagations of criticism in order to suggest that what
is an ancillary problem in the Poetics, becomes by some process not totally 
appreciated, the root problem of the greater part of later criticism and 
accounts for much of its combative tone. 

2. The Changing Fortunes of the Poetics 

I have stated above that one of the critical functions Aristotle performs, 
and one which is by no means his most important, and here I disagree 
vehemently with Elder Olson, is that of clarifying the critical
vocabulary of his time. No less a critic and highly respected scholar of 
classical Greek, Professor Alfred Gudeman would agree with my judgment 
(cf. Aristotle, "The Poetics", especially the brilliant commentary.)
The special form this task takes, of distinguishing between the various 
kinds of poetry, is motivated by more than an analytical passion or by the 
desire to build a system. Aristotle's elevation of tragedy (dramatic poetry) 
at a time when that genre is already moribund has enough of a defensive 
tone of the sort we find in so much subsequent criticism, that we are
forced to concede that he is in actuality reacting to the acknowledged 
supremacy of history on the one hand, and the ascendancy paradoxically, 
of philosophy, on the other. For nothing seems clearer to me than that
at the very time Aristotle is asserting the primacy of tragedy that genre 
is making its last debased appearance in the final dramatic poetry of 
classic Greek civilization, Plato's magnificent trilogy, The Apology of 
Socrates, Crito, and Phaedo. 

This secondary, and combative task, that occupies him in the Poetics, 
places Aristotle in the position of being the initial defender of poetry 
in the western literary tradition. And if Leslie Fiedler's aforementioned 
theory of the 'archetype' is descriptively accurate as well as being 
intriguing, we can use it here to bite its own hand, in a manner of
speaking, in order to suggest that the archetype of criticism may be 
considered to be the ritual cleansing of poetry (the primal logos) of 
impurities that had begun to corrupt it from within. But that is a matter
for a different study. What concerns me here is to show that the defense 
of poetry (tragedy) the Stagirite undertakes, while still in its primitive
form, becomes the root problem for all of his epigoni, and one of such 
proportions that we see, for example, Scaliger (1540-1609) defending 
poetry from the rising influence of the lazzi when he distinguishes between
the language of the didactic epic and the vernacular, Sidney defending 
poetry against the rise of materialism, Milton attempting to hold religion 
at bay, Lessing (1729-1781) snatching poetry from beneath the sword held 
over it by the recent great ages of the plastic and visual arts, Shelley 
marshalling arguments against the threat from science, and Croce (1866-1952)
attempting to rescue lyric poetry from its domination by personality, which 
ultimately leads to singe-factor reductive analysis of all the diverse 
phenomena that make up a poem. I believe itis at the same time necessary 
for critics to recognize and admit that it is difficult-and finally utterly 
dehumanizing- to avoid the vagueness of psychological terminology when
speaking of the text/context relationship. Critics who have warned against 
the intentional fallacy have too often been taken to mean that any 
exploration of the mental life of the author's is irrelevant to
understanding the text. The intentional fallacy, to be precise, emphasizes 
the absurdity of psychologism, not of psychology, the absurdity of the 
Romantic notion that the creative process is a simple movement from
inside the brain and heart to outside on paper, of a flow from intention 
to achievement. If, however, psychological processes are understood as 
the mental work of sorting out and arbitrating between socially
created alternatives, ideal or actual, then one may, as a critic, set 
aside the strict opposition between social and cultural work existing 
in the public world, and psychology, existing apart from the world in a
wholly private place. Just as the context of the literary work of art 
should not be described as 'outside' the text, so also should it not be 
described as 'inside' the author. 

It must be obvious by now that I have included in my brief catalogue above 
critics who belong to each of the categories I established earlier. My 
motive has not been to offer what may appear to be a reductio ad absurdum 
but to suggest a common element among critics otherwise widely divergent 
in their aims. For it can be said as well of criticism, as it has been 
said of poetry, that in a special sense poetry is sui generis the source 
of any specific poem since art does not imitate life as is widely claimed 
but imitates in its formal and metaphysical aspects, art. Insofar as this
type of assertion is accurate, such theories as the mimetic, the archetypal, 
the structural, or the moral cognate theory of language (this last, only 
in the event that a prior concession is made that the denotative elements 
of a word constitute a moral history) are all equally but only partially 
true. But this root problem of criticism, which reappears in successive 
stages between the lines of each new ukase results most often in the pose 
of assertion and adjudication that tends to restrict the permissible
limits of poetry to quite narrow boundaries, to restrict, as well, under 
the guise of sharpening its focus, the terminology with which criticism 
is allowed to operate, and finally, tends to smuggle into the critical 
lexicon the special and only rarely useful language of a currently honored 
and much envied academic discipline. Of all the examples that come to
mind we need only consider the discipline most prevalent among academic 
critics in the second half of the 20th century, psychology, under whose 
aegis critics began to speak of the id, ego, superego and other similar 
parts of a poem frequently forgetting that at best such terminology is 
metaphorical and like any metaphor lacks intrinsic value unless we know at
some point the other half of its equation, and that at its worst such 
terminology is misleading jargon. 

I fear that I have raised more problems than I may be able to solve here. 
But perhaps that is well and good. It is not my purpose here to operate 
as a professional critic but rather as a poet concerned with developing
a base for the remarks that follow. I wish merely to clear the ground 
before my own feet before moving into the landscape of poetry in search 
of the fourteenth blackbird, and what I have said thus far should be
summarized as the offer of a number of propositions before, like some 
unlucky poet, a group of critics discovers what I'm up to while I am 
still unaware of its implications to some extent and proceeds to fit me
for a marble system in whose exit-less walls I will see only my own 
reflection until I can no longer find my essentially poetic defects of 
being human and erring. 

The propositions, then, are these. Without poetry there can be no criticism 
of poetry. Criticism cannot create poems. Poetry is written to delight and 
to astound. Astonishment is epistemological in nature; it is a way of 
knowing how to know (cf. Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponti). Astonishment 
engages us on many levels. Analysis engages us primarily on one level and
finally acts to estrange man from the deepest elements of his nature and 
perpetuates the Cartesian duality that poetry seeks, through its action, 
to heal. I could go on this way but I feel that I have made this
most serious point with enough precision to move forward. Which brings me 
to my introductory discussion of Leslie Fiedler's injunction that we 
should recover for criticism the apparatus of biographical study.
Although he offers that point as a principal tool for fiction, his critical 
scope and vision are broad enough to make it applicable for poetry as well. 

3. Approaches to the Heart of the Matter 

Before we can adequately deal with the special techniques Fiedler commends 
to us, it may be well to ascertain if there is another relationship between
poetry and biography than the one of decoder, which he suggests. And since 
the best place to start is always at the beginning, let us consider Plato. 

We are all well aware that Plato's banishment of the dramatic poets from 
The Republic has its origins in his enumeration of the three voices of 
poetry. In drama, he asserts, the poet speaks in a voice not his
own, in the epic he speaks both in another's voice as well as his own, 
while in the lyric he speaks exclusively in his own voice. These 
distinctions are crucial to Plato in asserting that the lyric is the
prototype of sincerity and allows him therefore to accept the lyric poet 
into the social organum and permits him to remain in the republic. He 
also alludes in his discussion of the lyric to the lyric poet's
special value for his utopian society. As Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494), 
one of the most influential renaissance Neo-Platonist, insists (cf.
Commentationes, ca. 1482), it is axiomatic that the lyric poet speaking 
in his own voice will be able to speak only his own mind. Thus, the lyric 
poet, by being what students are fond of labeling 'himself' will very 
likely develop through the readers' responses to that proclaimed self 
a similar activity in them, or to put it more succinctly, the lyric poet
in imitating that which he has a right to imitate, himself, that which 
he has experienced through living, not merely through histories or 
through myths, is able to perform the paideutic function which Plato places
at the center of his concerns as being vital to the survival of his 
community. This adumbration of Plato's thoughts on the lyric by Pico is 
quite useful and remains unchallenged by philosophers generally. Not
even Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), Pico's teacher and president of the 
Platonic Academy took issue with this interpretation, which leads us 
ineluctably to the point where we can posit that a special relationship
may exist between the lyric and biography. 

In a letter written by one of Napoleon's generals, Armand de Caulaincourt 
(1773-1827), to another, General de Marbot in 1826 concerning Caulaincourt's
recently published memoirs, he asserts "biography is history reduced to 
the personal level", (cf. Saint-Beuve).Aristotle, in the Poetics (51a36) 
states the poet and the historian "differ in that the historian writes of 
what has happened and the poet of what might happen" and that history 
deals "with each thing for itself" and is uninterested in the universal
or typical significance of events. But Aristotle's assertions are not 
dicta and leave room for us to consider the possibility that poetry may 
also deal with history on a personal level, or to put it more directly, 
a poet may be primarily interested in dealing with the events occurring 
in his own life for their sake. And that he may embody in his poetry the
depository , retriever and interpreter of those events, his own mind, 
because it is the one most interesting to him (in the sense of widely 
available). That this is, in fact the distinguishing feature of
most of the poetry written since Wordsworth's time certainly, has not 
escaped critical notice. John Crowe Ransom calls our attention to it when 
he writes: "An art never possesses the 'sincerity' that consists
in speaking one's mind, that is, in expressing one's first impression 
before it has time to grow cold. This sincerity is spontaneity, the most 
characteristic quality of modern poetry." "A Poem Nearly Anonymous"
(emphasis mine, OleW) As in much of Ransom's criticism, there is a jewel
buried here. 'Spontaneity' turns our attention not merely toward the 
subject of modern poetry but also to its appearance. It is the form that
sincerity assumes. And we have now arrived at the stage in our discussion 
where it becomes necessary to resolve the formal differences between petite 
history (biography) and poetry, particularly since the former has 
traditionally been thought of as belonging to the opportunities of prose. 
But Ransom's key word helps us further by having still another use. It 
points us at the place where the reaction of its audience to modern
poetry is found. 

'Form in literature', one of our most interesting critics, Kenneth Burke 
tells us 'is an arousing and fulfillment of desires. A work has
form insofar as one part of it leads us to anticipate another part, to 
be gratified by the sequence' (Counter-Statement, 1931). I believe we 
may safely say now that since the time of the Romantic poets the
audience, to which the poet also belongs in a general as well as in a 
special sense, has found nothing so interesting as personality, or to 
put it yet another way, as the presence in poetry of the spontaneously
acting human agent. Spontaneous because his story (plot) is unique and 
does not conform to any preexisting 'archetypal' pattern. When, in the 
essay cited at the beginning, Fiedler writes: "A final way back into the 
world of Archetypes, available even in our atomized culture, is an
extension of the way instinctively sought by the Romantics, down through 
the personality of the poet, past his particular foibles and eccentricities, 
to his unconscious core, where he becomes one with us all in the presence 
of our ancient Gods." (p. 327) He is both right and wrong; wrong where 
begins to prescribe rather than merely outline what exists, and wrong
where he follows the path of much criticism since Aristotle and insists 
on moving beyond the concrete (foibles and eccentricities) to the universal, 
which he calls 'subconscious core'. But Fiedler's is not an uncommon 
position although, like the critics he argues against, his criteria lead 
us ultimately to reduce a poem to a series of statements about its 
significance rather than its effect. Furthermore, were we to employ
the Jungian rather than the Crocean method of interpreting a poem, we 
should still not have come to terms with the haecceitic quality of most 
modern poetry. 

Another frequent Myth-Critic, Northrop Frye, is somewhat more indirect 
than his colleagues. He first summarizes the well-known position of 
Aristotle on the relationship of history to poetry. The historian, Frye
goes on to assert, takes as the 'external model of his pattern of words' 
actual occurrence and he is therefore 'judged by the adequacy with which 
his words reproduce that model.' The poet, on the other hand, 'makes no 
specific statements of fact, and hence is not judged by the truth or 
falsehood of what he says. The poet has no external model for his 
imitation.' From that point he goes on to assert: "The poet finds 
increasingly that he can deal with history only to the extent that 
history supplies him with, or affords a pretext for, the comic,tragic,
romantic, or ironic myths he actually uses." (Fables of Identity, 1963, 
p. 53, pp. 11-13, p.53). Myth is used here by Frye to describe typical 
actions, or plots, that take conventional forms. 

4. The Heart of the Matter 

The special characteristic of literary theorizing lies in its contagious 
nature. I could,were I to succumb, name at least half a dozen contemporary 
masters whose poetry I would find it difficult to approach, place in
the canon, and understand well using Frye's theory. It should also be 
noted that Frye's summary of the Aristotelian position on history is, 
whether intended or not, equally applicable to biography. In biography,
we are concerned with the fidelity with which the verbal pattern adheres 
to the precedent event that is both its origin and model. If the language 
fails to reproduce a sufficient number of the elements that constitute 
an event as it occurs, we classify that work as fiction rather than as 
biography. But before shunting an author's work from one genre to another,
from biography to fiction, we must allow for the uniqueness of what we 
call the historical imagination, the memory that, in any writer's case, 
whether he is writing prose or poetry is immaterial, will select
from its matrix which the experience has become with the passage of time, 
those details to which his emotions have remained attached. More often 
than not in contemporary poetry, these details will be concrete
and unique, rather than typical. And although we may not have, in the past, 
judged poetry by its fidelity to 'facts' in addition to the other criteria, 
we may find it both necessary and convenient to do so now, especially 
once we are willing to concede that the biographical impulse and the poetic 
have merged in our time as fully as the dramatic and the poetic re-merged
in the Elizabethan era. But before I continue, I would, at this point, 
like to substitute lyric for poetic since I am engaged in connecting 
poetry and biography, and attempting to do so at the particular
juncture traditionally occupied by the lyric. 

One of the threads that is noticeable in the fabric of much modern talk 
about poetry by poets rather than by critics has been stitched into place 
in Ezra Pound's famous statement that poetry ought "to be at least as
well written as prose." Whatever its possible source, we should notice 
its kinship with Wordsworth's directive in the "Preface to the Lyrical 
Ballads" that: "a large portion of the language of every good poem 
can in no respect differ from that of good prose." We will go further. 
It may be safely affirmed, that there neither is, no can be, any essential 
difference between the language of prose and metrical composition. 
(italics are mine, O.LeW.) That both are speaking about for as well as about
substance (is there really a useful distinction possible between them 
unless we are dealing with conventional or typical modes?) is less 
immediately apparent in the case of Wordsworth than in the case of
Pound. Yet once we recall the context in which this statement is made, 
and particularly that section which ends by Wordsworth defining the poet 
"as a man speaking to men" we may begin to see that there is some justice 
in thinking of personal experience, or biography to give it its proper 
name as a genre, as the foundation and form of the lyric impulse in the
poetry of our time. And it is on these grounds that Elder Olson's notion 
concerning the absence of plot in the lyric ceases to have any relevance. 
Nothing could be simpler tan to realize that a poet speaking in his
own voice (the lyric), and telling us of his own experience (biography) 
is bound to present the reader with a plot. Hence, the possibility arises 
that the lyric may no longer be what it was for Pound and the Imagists, 
what he called phanapoeia, but that it may have almost totally left the 
world of theoria, where images are the embodiments of a Platonic ideal, to
take up residence in the world of praxis, the world of actions initiated 
by men within an allotted measure of time. 

At this point we may also consider the images in the poetry I am describing 
as intended to produce in the reader a kinema of feelings rather than a 
vision of the "meandering absolute." Such poetry is related to Pound's 
ideal for both prose and phanapoeia in its "drive toward utter precision 
of word" as a corrective to the kind of poetic activity that sees its 
mission chiefly as that of embodying the fabulous in a manner much more 
abstract than even that in which Ben Jonson thought of it when he stated: 
"..the fable and fiction is, as it were, the form and soul of any poetical 
work, or poem." 

Such poetry, which sees itself as the fulfillment of Pound's dicta by its 
propagation of the abstract, Minimalist poets come to mind, is merely a 
reductive version of Imagism, a more maximally muscular diction than we 
found in the Georgians. 

Thus, when we speak today of the concreteness of poetry we ought not to 
mean merely the "tangible thing" of the past in which the poem's 
significance was located by both poet and reader but the unique,
the personal, the symbolic, or private, which replaces the bankrupt 
conventions of the tangible and becomes the means whereby the reader 
recognizes not himself primarily, but the poet, as well as the means 
whereby the reader does not carry his feeling deeper into himself in 
order to specify them but is able to generalize and externalize these 
feelings and attach them, thereby to the condition poetique and take
pleasure in their Dasein. For we have made too much of the universality 
of art in our time and given too little attention to its segmentative 
nature. 

I had not intended to use this essay to proselytize, but as long as I 
have begun let me at least add that a time when life for the mass of 
people has become pulverizingly assimilative it should be the task of 
poetry as much as of any art to recover for man a sense of his 
dissimilarity and uniqueness not only from nature and its creatures but 
also from his fellow man, and to give him the courage to endure insecurity.
This is precisely what autobiography or lyric is capable of achieving. 
For in the modern lyric, when the poet offers us a glimpse of the events 
of which he has been both inventor and participant (often as victim) 
without adornment he is not only permitting us to touch a man, in 
Whitman's sense, he is also forcing us to exercise our private haecceitas 
to do so. And when Whitman writes: 

For more than once dimly down to the beach gliding, 
Silent, avoiding the moonbeams, blending myself with the shadows, 
Recalling now the obscure shapes, the echoes, the sounds and simple 
   sights after their sorts, 
I, with bare feet, a child, the wind wafting my hair, 
Listen'd long and long. 

He is not merely exploiting his personality as so many critics of his 
work insist. He is, and this is considerably more important, and should 
be noted as a correction of Whitman criticism, fulfilling his own
program as he articulated it in the "Preface to the 1855 Edition of Leaves 
of Grass" where he asserts that "as soon as histories are properly told 
there is no more need of romances." That the "great poets are also
to be known by the absence in them of tricks and by the justification of 
perfect personal candor." He is writing in the lyric mode. And what is 
of the greatest importance, by doing so he earns the right to reenter
the Republic. 

If we wish to speak of form in such poetry, it will not help us a great 
deal to consider verbal structures, or structural myths, particularly
if our discussion leads the reader to conclude that structure and the 
technical elements by which it is made apparent are the most important 
part of the poem. We must go back to our previously articulated concept
of plot, as the actions of a unique individual, that is, plot as 
personality. We can observe the process I am describing in Coleridge's 
definition of organic form, which he says is: innate; [and] shapes as it 
develops itself from within, and the fullness of its development is one 
and the same with the perfection of its outward form. [And whose] exterior 
is physiognomy of the being within, its true image reflected and thrown 
out from the concave mirror. 

Which is like Emerson's, when he states: For it is not metre, but a 
metre-making argument that makes a poem-a thought so passionate and 
alive that like the spirit of a plant or an animal it has an architecture 
of its own, and adorns nature with a new thing. The thought 
and form are equal in the order of time, but in the order 
of genesis the thought is prior to the form. 

And both are not merely closer to the spirit of modern poetry than the 
pure Aristotelian dicta or any of its later resurrections, but that both 
are speaking of personality as form; Coleridge, when he mentions
"being", and Emerson when he names it "spirit." The three terms, despite 
their distance from one another in time, connote one and the same thing, 
uniqueness, newness, Ransom's "spontaneity", Fiedler's "signature", 
Karl Shapiro's "reality" stripped of its veils,and my own term, "lyric." 

5. Conclusion 

I must admit that it appears as though I have been trying to convert the 
reader to a new orthodoxy sustained by a critical theory I have developed 
in this essay. But the fact of the matter is that I have had a specific 
kind of poetry in mind from the very outset. These poems have not merely 
preceded the ideas I develop in the paper, which I consider perhaps the
latest example in the long and distinguished line of defenses of poetry, 
they have in a very real sense suggested them. And though there is a 
considerable number of poets to choose from, poets of varying degrees 
of excellence and distinction, I shall choose from the work of the poet 
who seems to me to be the very best of them, and by that I mean, the most
astonishing, individual,and precise. The poems I have in mind are those 
fifteen poems that comprise the fourth section of Robert Lowell's fourth 
volume, "Life Studies." Although they are not equally successful in
my opinion, one could select at random and be assured of coming up with 
an excellent example of the kind of poem about which I have been speaking. 
By Lowell's own admission, he wished "in 'Life Studies' to see how
much of my personal story and memories I could get into poetry." And in 
the judgment of one critic, himself a distinguished poet, Lowell seems 
to have succeeded splendidly. Let us hear Richard Wilbur himself:
"Skunk Hour" is another sort of dramatic poem altogether. It is one of a 
series, largely reminiscent, in which the poet sheds all his personae
( including the prophetic) and speaks of and for himself. 

"Of and for himself." What a telling statement, brief and insightful, and 
a recapitulation of my more cumbrous argument in the preceding pages. 
Taken as a whole, Wilbur appears to be saying in much less space what I 
have taken so long for here. If I read him correctly, "reminiscent" 
points toward experience, and I doubt that Richard Wilbur would protest 
greatly my substitution of 'lyric' for his 'Ďdramatic.' In any case, I 
would concede the point and compromise upon 'dramatic lyric.' 

If, at this juncture, my terminology seems to have become somewhat 
blurred, or at the very least suggestive of a lack of clear distinctions, 
that is precisely my intention. For among other more obvious objectives, 
I have also been devoting considerable thought to conjecturing about the 
significance of the trend in modern poetry that I have been describing; 
a position I wish to occupy. The critic, Stanley Burnshaw has suggested
that the future may witness a merging of genres, at least that the old 
and clear distinctions will no longer apply and the kind of poetic 
activity I have been describing here may in fact represent the proof
for his claims. Certainly the contemporary taste for a prosaic poetry is 
more than a new phase of the ancient quarrel between the language of the 
priest and that of the thief. The very requisite of precision changes the
traditional field of combat completely. And if we ultimately desire to 
hear the voice of the thief, it is only because in the final analysis 
all priests are alike and subsumed within an abstraction of one sort
or another, whereas each thief is unique. And Burnshawís thesis could 
find no better proof than James Joyce's two epics (the term hardly 
suffices). Since what transpires in the poetry of Stephen Dedalus
is more than just a little analogous to what takes in the poems of 
Robert Lowell, whom Joyce and Chekhov (they resemble each other in more 
ways than one) seem to have taught. The poem, "My Last Afternoon With 
Uncle Devereux Winslow" shows us how similar the operations of lyric
and reverie (to give stream of consciousness its proper rhetorical name) 
actually are. In both, although their intentions may differ, the order of
memory operates as a formal device. But where reverie seeks to recover 
the sunken and communal, lyric exposes the personal and ontological. 
Here the poet speaks in his own voice and details the action (or
plot) of his own past experience: 

One afternoon in 1922, 
I sat on the stone porch, looking through 
Screens as black-grained as drifting coal. 
Tockytock, tockytock 
Clumped our Alpine, Edwardian cuckoo clock, 
Slung with strangled, wooden game. 
Our farmer was cementing a root house under the hill. 
One of my hands was cool on a pile 
Of black earth, the other warm 
On a pile of lime. 

We notice immediately that the poet has an external model for his 
imitation, experience, his own life, that he is not speaking in any 
voice but his, not as the child, but as the adult seeing the afternoon of
his unique childhood. The particulars are concrete and do not ascend to 
any ideal. The separate statements are connected by self, not by logic, 
sonority, meter, or any other structural or formal principle we have
encountered in the poetry of the past. The passage I have quoted is one 
of many that do what it does, and in the same manner. Leslie Fiedler 
may wish to call this "signature" and I would hardly object with what
may actually be an apt rubric. It is only when he insists in his Jungian 
fervor, and in the face of such contradictory evidence as I have outlined 
above, that the signature is inseparable from the archetype that I
must disagree. I am not interested in what ought to be. I have a given 
body of poetry before me. If I am to do it justice as a reader, I must 
attempt to find a way of understanding what it does, while at the same
time, find the terms to describe that activity. 

Even Professor Renee Wellek admits that a "work of art contains elements 
which can sure be identified as biographical." But he adds "these elements 
will be so rearranged and transformed in a work that they lose all their 
specifically personal meaning and become simply concrete human material". 
I do not agree that they lose all personal meaning. But, in any case, that
is a minor point. Of greater significance is the fact that both Fiedler 
and Wellek are dealing with extension, the writing of poetry. I am, on 
the other hand, more concerned with its less bellicose uses as a
means, not of discovering some poet's foibles but as a description of 
the method some of our modern poets use, regardless of whether 
consciously or not, to deal with their experiences. As a gratuitous 
answer to Professor Wellek, let me conclude by saying that we, as readers 
and critics, need not be moved by Robert Lowell's personality, but we 
cannot help but be deeply moved by the personality operating in Lowell's 
poem. All the more so since we recognize in its random movements (plot) 
the essential character of his own life which may be quite different from 
ours. But his willingness to engage in what Emerson calls "confession" 
for his own sake as well as for ours, teaches us a vital way of 
recognizing the particulars of our own existence. What cave-dweller 
could ask for more? 


Rebecca Lu Kiernan Hard Labor ~~~~~~~~~~ I would crawl over uncharted shipwrecks, Frozen tundra, rip rides, To touch you in the dance Of bent cobalt willows Tremulous in the grey December rain. I would walk the fractures Of thinly frozen lakes To taste you In the cotton candy pink light Of the year's final sunset. I would knock over your black licorice candles To untie your hands Beneath your trap door, The door no one else can see, Your camouflage being so professional, Your strategy so well rehearsed, Bearskin rug strewn haphazardly, Love seat in bomber jacket leather Catty-cornered to the plaid fainting couch, Basket bouquet of amaryllis and stargazer lilies As if your life were lived there In natural light through French lace curtains, Screen door open to the orchestra of Tremulous wind chimes, A gray dog's jubilant bark When his whole world approaches The stone lion guarded cobblestone walk. Who else could see you Shivering in icy silence, Wringing your clitoris-twirling hands, Juggling your one-night stands? Thumbing through your little black book Of women whose slight-of-hands Swept through you ghostlike And never touched your face Or brought your morning coffee, Or handed you your heart And put it back in place When you kept it in a sterile jar Along with sea shells ambivalently plucked From unremarkable days, Bar napkin notes in lipstick. I would cup my hands Around your immoveable stones, Barbed-wire fences, Labyrinths of fire, To satisfy your most fragile need, Broken childhood wish, Your darkest desire. Worshipping you would be Back-breaking work, Sifting through charred sands Of your black volcano beaches For some artifact Of inextinguishable love.
Clifford K. Watkins, Jr. Lab Rat ~~~~~~~ surrounded by a tunnel of hands how much sorrow can you stand who'll remember me a sample in a tube of infinity maybe we're god's plan the lab rat is man watch him rise beneath a collage of eyes we're all paranoid time flies and devours space are we a void stray shavings of the erased remnants of a lost race the products of our own buffoonery is there a better place who knows am I rambling of course it shows the devil made me do it I'm descending below we're the dregs a mouth full of excrement heathens vomiting into a revival tent we can dry up and blow away in the wind some won't even be memories in the end
Morning's Waking ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ at morning's waking sidewalks moved toward the sky another prophecy in the making restless limbs wouldn't sleep or die the nightmare soared each vision had a profit professing savior and a world for the taking
Hollow-Sun Reflections ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ follow me into a forest of deception to escape direction and we can make tears for eternity that descend to muddle reflections nothing is near except the swaying trees stretching the truth inside we foster a cavern of lies in absence of proof bloodshot and weather beaten we return in effigy we burn simmering beneath our great god of fire throwing ourselves onto a funeral pyre souls hurled like rice the brainwashed line the horizon to be sacrificed a decapitated head for each steeple the cloth is doubly divine but still human and no less evil open doors to confront faceless people such meager creatures so tired and feeble If it's nothing more than a promise of bliss we could do better to slash our wrists violent echoes of scream we linger inside our fiery-electric dreams embracing shrunken morrow faces unlocked doors and dark places we desire and need happy hearts flutter as insanity feeds
Blue-Eyed Jesus ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ recreating ourselves along the way discarding recollections souls strewed in disarray any reason not to cast this life away what's more trivial than today only tomorrow or maybe a realm in absence of sorrow minds bedazzled ideas swirl crimson-hued another blue-eyed jesus to the rescue the products of our own buffoonery we've got no clue in the lean hour shadows recede as skies darken memories empty into scatter gardens unable to feel of flesh unable to come to exist forevermore in absence of the sun a mansion in the sky no reason to unravel no more wondering why no more drugs to keep me high I'd probably just sit around and sigh when you contemplate the ideal this life's not so bad and much more real it's okay to be a little mad encompassed in brains we're electric energy surging insane walking a tightrope between pleasure and pain the ordinary and deranged one in the same
Faces In A Puddle ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ are we faces in a puddle distorted by gentle rain what becomes of knowledge encompassed in brains gathered for a lifetime If only we could harness minds unravel and rewind maybe we hold the keys to the universe to live afraid and unblind ever walked in an unconscious mind there's nothing to find no bliss only an underlying chasm of madness we're all evil twisted and insane little marbles rolling in an open-fire brain angels assemble above the smothered and strangled descending from awkward angles birds swarm above the tree is swaying feathers fall on those who are praying mocking scriptures and cursing the skies we can't surrender to a jar of flies
Heaven Is Scenery ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ god is a word heaven is scenery life is a blur between lapses of memory beautiful moments and monumental misery I can't remember me I venture listlessly no one really listens souls are christened reproduction is the mission to further our genes and expand our vision coitus an invitation to invention holding your breath the instant before ejaculation a second before death it's never quite real I can't escape the surreal muscles contract and blood spills only wanting to feel
Nancy Ellis Taylor Lives Like Weeds and Feral Cats ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Faint primeval galaxies form in abandoned pools of motor oil We collect valuable plastics Resins scraped from wood char heal the wounded Wingless we yet glide across the rebar riddled fields where mustard plants return in bouquets of tattling smiles The keening of the wind through shattered promontories hurts In the graveyard of roses we live in follies disguises age ruins before the reign of ruins Dandelions grow thick and dangerous among the scattered hill of crushed glass and empty hubcaps Nothing is literally as it seems and raw sewage feeds the streams that run away from the wreckage The mottled cat three legged and one eyed can still find food
waiting moment ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ subtle softing sound fog among the eucalyptus trees weaving wet bank moss and purpling jacaranda the ground is hushed and giving alone to wander with the gentle phantoms morning drapes as silk before the daylight hardens all the dreamery to one stark edge we are the moment moist and waiting
Lunch Hour: Gulf Fritillary ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A sense of the aromatic passion flowers hidden we reminisce Baja before Oaxaca when Los Angeles always The flaming salvia have succumbed to slugs gray wet insatiable insatiable as a century of freeways devouring the green Leaving fame to small dogs we chase butterfly wings to find a gentle bower but even their young are spike haired and eating them out of house and home
One Night: Desert with Neon ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Blackened chewing gum on the pavement is the map of this pilgrim's progress but I have never been through Vegas when it was hot enough to stick hot enough you were once by daylight framed in plaster statuary and slot machines I dream in neon all aquiver in colors bent by someone else's touch touch me you did in water imitation aqua skin adazzled with liquids rare and sun startled the sky is never black it folds soft against the aurora of the city night is good here or outside the limits where the mesas rise and sand grains mock the stars' numbers mock me you tried we never saw the stars ceilings sometimes white with puttied angels rhinestones are not wrong my gathering of light talismans of a creature nocturnal and unbowed leaving life brightening trails leave me you could and did toward sunshine toward women aflutter in salon golds and thoughtless acquire even the planes are more beautiful against the cold spike of the moon
Midnight Court ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "We all have our tragedies. Now, what do we build from the ruins?" - a librarian in Los Angeles Graveled gateways mica flecked the granite glitters with small smiles a twinkling the moon full is never grim Collect the shell casings puddled candle wax the glass still bubbled a shining the headlights will never grow dim Towers like the ragged edge of abandoned coast boiled tires burnt tar conjure back the civil the sirens a hymn Aluminum what is left twisted philosophers stone for making wind chimes little pretties choices vary chances slim Here in the rubble of grey veined colonnades cafe chairs and razor wire lace the water pools with stars and petals of a momentary lily wild and speckled The midnight court convenes
Leopold McGinnis Optimist ~~~~~~~~ You jet-set go getter Youíve been around the world And back again Dipping your fingers In the international Platter du jour With au jus A la carte Materialistic society Chases you from airport To airport as if you were Carmen Santiego, Running from the Skeletons in your Closet cum backpack Skeletons called Privileged upbringing And western society You canít get away But you can keep running Tokyo, Manila, Rome Brisbane, Amsterdam, Shanghai Youíve seen the worst life has to offer Brown skin with black soles Beds made from cardboard Makeshift toilets in flower pots that divide four lane highways Hanoi, New Delhi, Cork Luxor, Kathmandu, the Hague youíve seen a three thousand dollar sweater paid a dollar for an oil massage haggled over carpets you couldnít possibly carry with you and made friends with people who couldnít possibly understand you. Burning optimism at both ends You propel yourself across bridges Leaving the heat to burn the timbres Gotta keep moving because in those long breaks between destinations, Receiving free socks in fuselage Rattling in the cage of a jeepney Sleeping on sailorsí cots The haunting creeps in and tries to get you. tries to pry apart The crevices in your grey matter. Hong Kong, Nairobi, Seoul Bangkok, Athens, Oslo Gotta keep moving. Gotta keep moving because if you touch down in enough airports ride enough boats see enough poverty taste enough strange foods somewhere youíll find meaning, right? Somewhere, between slurps of noodles in a soba shack Between the meaty ends of a blood pudding Youíll taste your own blood Find solutions to the doubts, like beggars in Dakar, that never leave your heels, Right? Right?
The Golden Years ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I wonder why they call it the golden years? Is old age so gilded that every waking moment is like swimming through rays of sun in pastel pants and plaid hats of golden thread along shores sparkling with jeweled dew blinding beaches of Yukon dust endlessly caressing bullion boardwalks where the sounds of gulls are merely clarion calls to your good fortune? In retirement communities like Incan cities amongst temples to package tours and lawn bowling is every morsel of an English breakfast like biting into sautťed ingots where coffee is discounted to 65 cents and thatís close enough to being a sultan every day before moving on to shopping malls where boutiques like Manila Galleons brimming with fortune and collector plates land in your port every afternoon? Chewing on digestive Pieces of Eight over evening tea and biscuits panhandling the radio dials for easy listening treasure between pauses in royal flushes does talk of good old days make gold old days? Where there's so much wealth And so little time that Itís a rush to spend it all? Is that why they call it the golden years?
A secret message ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Pidgeons flutter into the sky Go back and forth Back and forth As if caught in a cyclone just above the telephone wires As if caught in a cyclone in their minds Or the mind of one with a conviction so strong that the others are vacuumed into the inevitable vortex. Itís winter now and they should have flown south Weeks ago, but here they are playing Flutter, flutter, fluttering Endlessly in a phantom racetrack And I stand still to watch, mesmerized watching, watching forever the beats of a thousand breaststrokes like brushstrokes in the air They whirl over the canvas Smattering their impressionist flaps In a sour, cold sky Painting something meaning something I can't... discern
Durlabh Singh GROW FINGERS ~~~~~~~~~~~~ And I grow fingers and thumbs to write more The verses that do not follow straight lines But zigzagging under the open skies In chromed yellow sunlight In canopy of the trees Of the emerald green. Deserts there are, heat exhausted creatures Which demand to know the arrival of dawn Within the hot sandy dunes loneliness resides Seized in sounds of silences the wind sighing. Winters I have seen, in interiors of people Where motions are frozen in frigid bonds And down pours from dark clouds echoes The deaths of the moths on the frozen ponds. Today I speak from depths of the being From slits in roofs, from broken charades From blood soaked minds under the bullets metallic Or women singing their songs in mud soaked paddies. Run with syrup on my parched lips Or disappear in the immensity of the seas Rain forested creatures wormed of nights In wakeful of the myths for mutterings in dawn.
REMEMBER ~~~~~~~~ Remember Poetry is the blood of your visions It rips you apart against The torrid consolidations of mundane Strengths elongated in the retinues Sparked for uncertain verses in trials. It wants huge skies to fly It wants ruined castles for your dreams Vast open spaces for its habitations Wilder faces and unknown stipends And the spirit of beauty for Its hearty congealments. Open up the worlds for incantations The barbarous that do not hold Shipwrecks of your flesh Sinking downwards Pleads of the familiar In an unfamiliar word Silenced petals and anguished flowers. It flies to faraway lands It reaches molten cores of earth It dances on raindrops of hope It talks with dry ghosts In the scorched summers It accepts the cindered fragments Forms frolicking in the liquid sea Or shadows dipped in nothingness.
duane locke AL FRESCO CAFź POEMS #101 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I, or i or whatever process this spatial displacement Is At the temporal moment, I Forget Malebranche, Do not speculate on the binary opposites, body/soul, How they converse, or engage in fisticuffs, Or hug with an extraordinary tightening of the arms Resulting in indentations In both flesh and spirit, Or compromise their opposed points of views And have their purity or impurity contaminated. I=92ll dismiss from my consciousness the vestiges of the Poltinian systematization of the Platonic tradition And its promulgation by Augustine, And do nothing for a short time but open the door. Now, opening of the door, my gripping of a polished Brass knob And turning counterclockwise, to hear a bolt slip Out of a metal surrounded hole, If not preceded by post-Cartesian speculation, Is somewhat amazing. Actually, it is very amazing, even marvelous=20 In a surreal sense, or miraculous in a David Hume sense, I always feel startled When the door opens and unconceals the white doors Of two elevators. Now, I am not reading the man-made as Swedenborg read Natura as A hieroglyph, Nor as a medieval correspondence, every created thing Having the signature of the artist, God. Sometimes, upon opening doors, although I do not believe In the binary opposition of the natural/supernatural, It is so amazing, like amazing grace, the opening of a door, I feel I am experiencing salvation( this is phenomenal, not physicality) Also, when experiencing this natural-supernatural event Of opening a door, I believed as the fourth-century philosopher, Dionysius the Areopagite believed That the divine event (appropriated in my personal hermetic, esoteric, Solipsistic perception to be a natural-supernatural event), That this quotidian occurrence Transcends all our current knowledge And human understanding, That the event is incomprehensible. Every time I open the door the event Is never the same, the opening always astounds With a different variety of wonder, Thus I can say "There is no object called a door."
AL FRESCO CAFź POEMS #102 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Eyes, blue or blind, stare From a face Into an empty space. Is there in this empty place, something, A force, that is no where, Thus everywhere. Our hourly thoughts wink For an hour, more or less, At walls enclosing emptiness, although a physicist With better equipment that our eyes and their connections Would Tell us The empty space is only a conclusion of an illusion Of the limited And the not very intelligent beings named homo sapiens. Nature hates a void, Empty space is filled. Plotinus proposes that the divine transcends space and time, Thus has A non-spatial mode of being That is present everywhere as a whole. This non-spatial mode of being In not tied down to any particular space, But is present in its entirely everywhere. I suppose this is why I sit on an oak stump In the open air, Watch across the street the yawns at a tea party. Every woman wears a wide brimmed hat.. I look at he mowed lawn That surrounds the party Think how custom and law Jags Into regularity The grass-wild eyebrows. This empty space that surrounds Does Appear to me To be filled With the scared. I hold up an empty tea cup With empty space To my lips, And my lips feel the sacred.
AL FRESCO CAFź POEMS #103 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A narrative-chained, simulated native, Brick-piled stumbled, Falls, Becomes mud-covered, Arises, Mud-clogged To travel towards Unanchored blurs. His shoulder cloth touches Emptiness, his skin ripples. The flat, blank exit Grows white roses.
AL FRESCO CAFź POEMS #105 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The roach and its magic recontexualized The lived-by, but unread context, and now the page Has the inebriated wrath That saves By negation of understanding. Hammering a tin plate illuminates the white room, And the crumbled terrycloth bathrobe That came with warm Cuban bread, Brightening the pink tight belts of two centuries ago, And the preparation for divorce At string quartet wedding on the lawn Of manufacturer of fogs and fog horns. The heel pulled from a tossed-away high-hell Silver-blue slick surface shoe walks over the white rug In the white room, the straps speckled with small bubbles As the shoe crawled from bubble bath in the bathroom Of apartment 1011 in an apartment house Four miles down the four-laned highway. Oil men walk their yachts pulling on leashes Across lips boarded up in case of a hurricane But sprawled and limp on switch blades made of plastic Advertised as being Samurai swords as snow Drifts from the stars tacked on the ceiling. The blonde hair dropping down to the side Of her chin is near-sighted and has lost its glasses.
AL FRESCO CAFź POEMS #104 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ An octogenarian painter ogled An octagonal Wine glass. The unfamiliarity of the glass=92 shape brought A recall Of octosyllabic verse and liverwurst. His occupation had been ocular, He once painted on An Odalisque The sounds of an ocarina, And when the painting was complete, Her olive-toned skin Became an edict.
Michael Estabrook crashing blood-splattering collision ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ So you think I wish to die slowly on my soft warm deathbed, meandering through my myriad memories, reliving and repenting those miserable moments in my life, moments I would give anything to take back, do over again, times when I was deceitful, cowardly, weak, greedy, envious, frightened, uncivilized, selfish, nasty, dishonest, narrow-minded, lustful, ungraceful, rude, crude, insincere, impatient, brutish, hypocritical, and untrue. Not a chance, no thank you, take me fast, please, dear Lord, in one big smashing crashing blood-splattering collision with a bus, a loaded dump truck or a lumbering train.
pale ghost ~~~~~~~~~~ One day before the movers in their big orange moving van finished clearing everything out my wife said good-bye to the house she was raised in. Her father was at his new house already with his new wife. It had been, after all, an entire year since the first one died. I watched my wife as she walked slowly from room to dusty room sobbing, as the ghost of her mother trailed along behind, her head, pale as powder, bent down in the deepest sorrow.
Patti: Purgatory Terrace Three: Anger ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1 Like a startled doe in a clearing she looks up from the want ads, her lips snarling, "I hate this. I! Hate! This!" her eyes glaring straight into me as if I've just told her I'm leaving and taking the money, the dog, and the children, too. 2 "And if it weren't for me you'd be a damn drunk living one of those lost lives out on the street someplace, in the gutter!" and she stomps out of the room. 3 rolling her eyes to the ceiling and barking at me to pull my bootstraps tighter and stop whining like a damn baby all the damn time about the pain nagging ceaselessly as Niagara Falls at my lower back 4 The weather was so terrible the cabby never showed up at the airport at midnight. Even though I didn't want to call her, I had no choice, really. As I slid in behind the wheel, she said, "I can't believe you made me come out on a night like this." 5 shrugging when I recount my dream about her and Aunt Adele waiting out in the car for me to get their bags and drive them to the airport, and how I can't find the bags, and I'm moving so slowly, like I usually do, like a damn turtle, and she's waiting, tapping her foot, and the time's going, and she's waiting and waiting and beginning to get angry at me too, for not moving fast enough 6 She's going through menopause (we suspect) and she's so sick of me she can barely look at me. I'm weak and selfish and never there for her and I don't understand her. (How could I begin to understand her, I'm a stupid man!) And having sex with me, while never much of an eagerly anticipated event for her even during our younger years, is now quite simply too unbearable to even contemplate. "I just don't see the point," she says.
Art is Chaos ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Something alluring about chaos after all it is one-half of the universal battle order versus chaos enthalpy versus entropy & what I think, if I do indeed think at all, is that art for most of us is organized chaos because we can't do it any other way. However, true art (no time for definitions now gotta run) is chaos simply chaos pure and simply chaos but as I say most of us are too human for that and the other thing about it is that true art is formed by people who would never be having a silly conversation such as this they haven't the time nor the inclination to fidget over order versus chaos (perhaps only us scientists have the mental energies for such unfructifying speculations). Artists do what they do because it is what they do, it is what they are, it is them. Period. Or something like that. I guess you can tell I have no idea whatever of what I'm talking about. Let me try it from another angle - Picasso or Dante or Shakespeare or Michelangelo or Mozart or Brahms or Beethoven or Gauguin - even though their art is intensely organized, the best of art that's ever been produced (subjective view perhaps but not entirely), it is not organized because these guys sat down and said - hey I need to be organizing this thing that's rattling around so uncomfortably inside of me, no. No. I don't think so. It is organized to us because it is organized for us by the true artists who are after all translators or perhaps interpreters of something inside them and outside them too which no one else, no ordinary person that is, can see or hear or feel. It is organized because it needs to be in order for it to be comprehensible to the "common man." Mozart's genius spilled out of him truly like they make it do in the movies he did not struggle to find his voice it is his voice simply because it is his voice and it spilled out of him but the form it took is not the form it was inside of him it was something else like the primordial soup at the beginning of biological history (chaos at that point by the way made life, without chaos then & constantly thereafter we would not be here today); like God (if one should believe in such a pedestrian concept) appearing in human form so we can recognize him (or Her). I like to think that he is really a She, certainly much more enjoyable (for me at least) worshipping the Female whatever the Female is I suppose. (I do know it, however, when I see it and hear it and smell it.) Well, guess I'm done for now. You know I have an uncle, Uncle John, (guess I'm not done for now) who was a drunk, a true alcoholic an unfunny thing to be, rumor has it he was this way because he couldn't have kids but anyway, he was a drunk. But his profession was as a welder, if welder is a profession I don't know, and when he got older like 60 he got Lou Gehrig's disease you know where your muscles get weaker and weaker and you can't work anymore or play racquetball either and when that happened to Uncle John and he stopped working he turned his aging and fading and gin-sodden brain, what was left of it that is, to art (& Lord knows I'm really using that word loosely). He began making these little welded figurines of people doing this and that one playing the piano, another fishing or swinging a golf club, and I was really insulted (& disgusted). I mean now that he's done with his life's work of welding and he's bored well it's time to make some art it's simple enough I have time on my hands anybody can do it well fuck him fuck him fuck him hard up the ass with his fucking welding rods.
Lamont Palmer Landing on the Disco Channel ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Again, I sat as sad zombies sit, listening to moments personal auras can do nothing about. I remember when my limbs were not wooden branches. I remember when I thought age was not an enemy. Age was a comic whose jokes I did not get. I remember my yearnings were silky and fine to the touch, like a woman, glowing in youth. I remember when disco was like blood. This is a stage. I put out the trash at night, getting rid of, at night, what is needless any hour. The moon above me is drunk in its whiteness, looking at me as if I might be there someday hanging beside him, me, another heavenly body. Nothing is as it was. Damn it, can I not say this is a stern calm voice? My tremulous voice is the tongue of the past when I remember legs, arms, and futures, youthful with motion, and when It comes back to me the days when disco was like blood.
Losing Yourself ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The sky is gray as a gray diamond. In the air rain is looming like a soldier ready to swoop in. I think this rain will be familiar with us, and cover us eagerly, like it should. If I were in a purging mood I'd release all that is unusual all that isnt you on distinctly frivoulous days and my house, my white house which sits in this country town would pay for itself and I'd be off the hook. The sky is as gray as a gray jewel thats priceless and no owner to peruse its surface--no watchers. Yesterday I was ill, today I am a battery charged; I feel, yes, feel I could benchpress a world--Jupiter maybe, the planet that 1300 earths can fit in, but why would earth desire to dwell there? Perhaps because we all want to be inside something, inside something blue and alive--an ocean house, where skies gray as gray diamonds would match wondrously. Is this world, this tangible element, breathing in wine and song apart of the world you can't see? The words retain their vintage taste, their edgy way of thwarting history, and if losing yourself in the sunshine was easy, the gray would be superflous.
Belinda ~~~~~~~ she has nothing but her cats and god in that apartment so quiet in kentucky i feel a sorrow heavy as anvils in my veins heavy as planets balanced on my shoulders god is good but is he enough i wish there was more for her not only the cats god and a deep kentucky silence so deep it could kill or stealthily make your life as brown grass.

POST SCRIPTUM


Averil Bones


SCISSORS FOR STITCHES
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You are endlessly at sea,
crowing from the shifty ground
you sing to me as sound.

I, dreamy fool, stitched myself
with honeyed mysteries to the
sneaking rat of your fate.

But now, friendless Daedalus,
out with the scissors.
Snip Snip!

The threads are weak. 
I stewed them from the
bitter mud of your exes.


COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

  All poems copyrighted by their respective authors. Any reproduction of
  these poems, without the express written permission of the authors, is
  prohibited.

  YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts - Copyright (c) 1993 - 2005 by 
  Klaus J. Gerken.

  The official version of this magazine is available on Ygdrasil's 
  World-Wide Web site http://users.synapse.net/~kgerken.  No other 
  version shall be deemed "authorized" unless downloaded from there. 
  Distribution is allowed and encouraged as long as the issue is unchanged.

  COMMENTS & SUBMISSIONS

    * Klaus Gerken, Chief Editor - for general messages and ASCII text
    submissions: kgerken@synapse.net

    Or mailed with a self addressed stamped envelope, to:

YGDRASIL PRESS; 1001-257 LISGAR ST.; OTTAWA, ONTARIO; CANADA, K2P 0C4