Friday, December 31, 2004

The Moy...Poem 13

Despite never seeing the Moy,
or, to my knowledge, a curlew
Bean An Fhir Rua still forces me to drink.




Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Sweet Silence, and when too silent, then add commentary.

Once again, I am going to take the bloghayana, as
it were, and bring up something unrelated (directly,
at least) to versifying.

Just watched the "special edition" Metropolis last
night. Not being the biggest of filmies, I may be
incorrect in the following assertion... but it seems
that no one has tackled a re-make of this movie.

I realize that the themes have been lifted for the
last seventy-four years. I wonder why no one has
applied big studio money to the project.

Possibly it is too small an audience; however, I'd
wager there are a fair portion of Fritz Lang fans
out there.

Plus, when you look at it this film has it all. We've
got allegory. We've got an honesttagawud proletarian
revolution. We've got the White Goddess manifested
as Virgin Mother and doppelganged (through cloning,
no less) as Judith. Ample room for a handsome male
lead (Freder needn't be anything but) and a sinister
villain. Beyond the sinister villain, an antihero. One
can employ a special effects bonanza! Also (and I
could go on for days, but I shall be merciful) I
smell Oscar for costume design!

Ah, what the hell. I'll give a treatment of sorts.
We'll stick to casting today. Tell me if you wouldn't
rush to the theatre for tickets on this one:

Wim Wenders Presents
METROPOLIS

Joh Fredersen.........Kenneth Branagh
Freder, Joh Fredersen's son....Jude Law*
Rotwang, the inventor.....John Malkovich
(and cue music)
The Thin Man.......Don Cheadle
Josaphat..........Paul Giamatti
11811................Ewan McGregor
Grot, the guardian of the Heart Machine...Mark Wahlberg

The Creative Man
The Machine Man
Death
The Seven Deadly Sins

Maria.........................Aishwarya Rai

Original Score by Tom Waits.

(* I'll admit ambivalence, but when one considers Freder
being the son of Branagh, and McGregor as the worker
who strikes out as Freder, it seems to work out. Also,
due to SAG bylaw 6710-C, Jude Law has to be cast
in one of every three movies. This way, I will not
need to include him in my casting roll for the
upcoming productions of Richard's Cork Leg
and Post Office.)

Tell me that doesn't merit $8!

A Drink to Bobby Burns tomorrow!

AND A FINAL NOTE... Does anyone else find the suggestions
within the spellcheck hilarious? For example, "Freder" suggests
"breeder"; "brainwash" for "Branagh"; "gamete" for Giamatti (I
find this the funniest, given his appearance); and "Persephone"
for "versifying." That last one is wild. The machine is
thinking on a level a lot of us aren't prepared for, I reckon.
N O S T R O V I A

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

When the Convivio Arc splits at fifty

Recently there has been a good deal of chatter about
MFA Poets versus what we might call their "folk"
counterparts.

The idea of folk and court literature has always been
of some interest to me, due in no small part to the
class I was born into and its relation to my own
experiences. To put it plainly, my existence has
been an ongoing identity crisis. On one hand, I
grew up twenty miles from the nearest town
of any significance... on the other, I've spent my
every waking moment pondering words and
ideas. My Aunt likes to recall how odd it was
that her twelve year old nephew was reading
Nietzsche for his summer vacation. There was
scarcely a person that knew me as a child or
adolescent that didn't expect a career in
academics.

Well, I may have been an odd duck in my pond;
however, much of the country contrariness
manifested itself in my early manhood. Ed Abbey
put it best: "The best thing about graduating
from the university was that I finally had time
to sit on a log and read a good book." Never got
around to the graduating part (well, if one counts
Universidad de Guadalajara, then strike first
clause) and wasn't concerned with feigning
interest in professional life. Beyond that, I would
never have dreamed of pursuing a "Poetry" or
"Creative Writing" degree, much less postgraduate
work. Seems like advanced lessons in fucking...
worthwhile for prostitutes I suppose, but entirely
unnecessary for any of the public at large. These
programs, like the university system in general,
are quite the swindle.

They do have their benefits, as Mr. Corral asserted.
These programs supply a valuable network for
Professional Poets.

It is surely a coincidence that American poetry
has atrophied since the inception of the established
Poet Class. Why is popular interest in poetry
waning year by year? I am sure it has nothing
at all to do with the presumption among readers
that today's "Proet" exists in a closed society that
consists of class elements, specialized instruction
and solipsistic fervor, especially related to sexual
congress. Why on earth are the ruminations of
an academic seeing a dead wren on his lawn
or a woman in his bed not selling in Peoria?
(To digress, I think that a dead wren or a
slap and tickle are certainly good material
for poetry -- the ineffectiveness of such stuff
lies in the writer's obsession with himself. The
wren is not a wren but an experience of the
poet. The vanity of a lot of today's Proets
can be nauseating. It was once said of James
Joyce that he lived in a Joyce-centered
universe. I suggest that is because he was
James Joyce. And as Auden said on a
different subject, "you, my dear, ain't.")

Which brings us to Abu al Atahiyah.
Abu Ishaq Ismail ibn al Qasim ibn Suwayd al
Kaysan lived in modern Iraq from 748 to 826.
He was certainly a firebrand, and much of the
controversy that surrounded him stemmed from
his lack of and disdain for formal instruction.
(It didn't serve him well that the culture in
question's "formal" instruction was also of
a religious nature, thus simple rebellion
quickly trods on the ground of heresy.)
His Zuhdiyat ruffled a feather or two, what
with its proto-Marxist wish fulfillments
regarding the vanquishing of the moneyed
class. As always, yesterday's heretic becomes
today's folk hero. When a Spanish researcher
brought the work to light in the eleventh
century, it "enjoyed immense popularity and
was frequently set to music." (Oldpoetry.com)

Our friend al Atahiyah did something daring
and important not so much by content but
form. In using "folk" language he forged a
lonely revolution. We find this throughout
the history of Farsi, Arab and Urdu poets.
And before anyone in the West feels like
getting up'n above they raisins, he or she
would benefit in noting that the verse traditions
and poetic skill of the aforementioned dwarfs
anything we've offered save Shakespeare.

So it is difficult within our culture and history
to draw a parallel to al Atahiyah. (As I mentioned,
there were many down the years like him
shaking things up, but he seems particularly
appropriate.) Though English writing has
displayed tendencies towards formalism, there
is nothing nearly as strict as the structure
of Medieval Arabic or Farsi verse. For our sake,
the only apt comparison would be Sandburg.
(Hart Crane occupies a slightly different space,
which could serve as an archetype later in the
conversation.)

And to digress again, but briefly...
It seems all cultures draw a line between "folk"
poetry (usually in a troubadour tradition, lute
or guitar or baglama in hand) and "court" poetry.
To go outside of ourselves, I'll use an example from
modern Turkey.
Asik Veysel Satiroglu (link to the side) is recognized
as one of if not the most important folk poets (the
term "Asik" is for all intents and purposes a Turkish
title like "troubadour." Interestingly enough, "Asik"
also means "to love" or "lover.") whose songs
are an integral part of the national character. One
would be hard-pressed to find a person in Turkey
with anything disparaging to say about him and his
work. One doesn't, however, compare him to Orhan
Veli Kanik or Melih Cevdet Anday. They are "formal"
poets. This cannot be related in concrete examples
from the U.S. or U.K., such as a comparison of
Bob Dylan to Robert Pinsky. For starters, Veysel's
work is far more developed and powerful than our
"song and dance man" has offered, and it occupies
a more primitive space. If anything, we might refer
to Veysel as Turkey's Woody Guthrie.

The main point being that "Kara Toprak" is as
good a poem as I've ever heard or read in any
language. It does precisely what every writer
wants, which is to move the audience and
act as a catalyst to profound emotional response.
Yet, with the exception of Robert Burns (whole
lot of Bobs here!) I cannot name a folk poet
who has received proper recognition for his
abilities.



Exit "Special Features" Section, back to
Main Menu.



So, back to Sandburg.

Most of the best of American poetry has come
from people like Sandburg. Rustic roughness
has long been one of the more endearing elements
of our national identity.

Alarmingly, that element is conspicuously absent
nowadays. Genuine banjo pickin' rustication
is as easy to spot in the American landscape as
a Minotaur. Increasingly, our collective identity
(and each respective offshoot in different
corners of the country) is dictated by a media
culture. Organic development is rare indeed.

The coarseness of this culture we've been given
is troublesome for the development of art. The
question becomes: just how do I
deconstruct, break the rules, tool with
form and structure without simply being
crass or artless? When observing contemporary
American "folk" culture it seems that
precious little of value can come out of it.

The American intellect is lamentable.
One might say we have a "Philadelphification"
on our hands... a civilization split into
pompous trust funders on one side and dullards
on the other. Naturally, there is a lot of
gray and when one gets to know people
they defy their caricature; yet, this divide
is increasingly apparent.

The problem with the Proets is largely that
their banalities are luxuries to the vast
majority of people. The human experience
is still a search for food, clothing and shelter
for most, and the self-obsessive "crafting"
of the Proet has no emotive value to anyone
occupying the Actual World. There is a
psychological reason for this deficiency.

One need only to consider Dante's Convivio.
Essentially, life arcs into four general stages:
adolescence (to age 25); maturity (25-45, with
35 being the prime year); wisdom (45-70); and
finally decrepitude. This would be the ideal
from Dante's perspective, and I can't disagree.

The problem is that the Proet finds himself
dependent upon authority beyond a reasonable
age of independence. Michael Hofmann had a
wonderful take on it in Poetry: "I think what
you have in America is basically a gerontocracy.
The ninety-year-olds are kingpins. The eighty-
year olds are jockeying for position. The seventy-
year-olds are gofers. The sixty-year-olds are
waiting for permission to breathe. I exaggerate,
but basically that's the way of it."

To put it another way, back to Abbey: "In the
modern technoindustrial culture, it is possible
to proceed from infancy into senility without
ever knowing manhood."

I would posit that not only is that possible in
the world of Poetry (big "P") but in many
ways inevitable. And so the leaders of our
aesthetic considerations are increasingly
flaccid. Too many words not saying a bloody
thing. Dichtung, goddamit!

The result, and I say this in full awareness
of the truism, is that today's recognized
writers by and large are born sitting down
to write and confusing this process with
standing up to live.

Shall we roughs show kindness and
remember to include the "A"
at the end of "MFA Poet?" Certainly.
Will American poetry see another Sandburg,
another Crane, another Ginsberg
under the yoke of the Proet Fraternity?
Most likely not. Is it far easier to spot
deficiencies in others than to compose
good verse? Absolutely. What shall
today's non-Professional poet (small
"p" -- we're a humble lot) do to emerge
beyond the black of the Elbowpatchers
and the white of the Openmicers to
illustrate that gray is always where it's
at in art? I welcome suggestions.

Nostrovia.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Talking with the Taxman about Lula

Today is Billy Bragg's birthday. I would say that I hope
it is a happy one... maybe it is. For all I know, auld Billy
might spend this one day each year not paying
attention.

Or simply whistling and looking on the bright side
of life. (Where the Flying Circus-es-es-s invasion
came from, I don't know.) On this day, I thought
it'd be a good idea to highlight bright spots hiding
in the news.

1. EU Talks scheduled (in honour of our birthday boy,
that's pronounced "shedjyoueled") for Turkey.
Seems as though a number of EU nations are interested
in allowing Turkey into the EU in earnest. (Though some
members suggested a sort of compromise, which basically
consisted of Turkey being allowed as a second class
member.) Talks were scheduled to begin next October.
The pessimist in me would point out that whereas
"Christian" nations in Eastern Europe were in
the EU in five to fifteen minutes, Turkey's accession
is likely to take at least a decade. (Vienna isn't walled
off overnight, you know.)

No matter what happens, the very encouraging thing
about this is that Turkey has been bending over
backwards to get into the Union. At first, this
troubled me.

We Americans have an almost religious obsession
with sovereignty. Ataturk was a proponent of
strong national sovereignty, almost to the extent
of America's lip service to the idea. The first time
I went to Istanbul (this was in the happy days of
the '90's) I couldn't possibly understand why
a majority of the people I talked to were determined
to be an EU nation no matter the cost. "Why," I'd
ask them, "is this so important that you're willing
to put up with the existing EU member states'
prejudices towards your country, which has not
only a strong military and an extremely important
geographic location, and, by the way, is one of five
or so self-sufficient countries on earth? Besides,
just about every country to the east seeks to
emulate you. Why not begin a Central Asian (or for
that matter, Asian) union with the due respect
Turkey deserves, rather than kowtowing to
these Westerners?" There was some sympathy
for this reasoning, but it wasn't the point. As recent
events have shown, the attempt to gain entry into
the EU has improved conditions in Turkey and
brought about some official changes that would
have been slow in coming without the EU carrot.
Even though Western Europe is sure to drag its
feet, the terms and conditions for entry are
positive for Turkey domestically.

2. BBC World reports that Brazil is ascendant.
South America just keeps getting better and
better. The standard for improvement in the
Global South is a pretty low bar, but Brazil and
Venezuela are feel-good stories for international
democracy. First, Venezuela exercised the vote
to reinstate their "Negros y Indios" president.
I won't lay out the pro and con sheet about
Hugo Chavez; but, I will say that it is nice to see
people voting in their own interests despite
a propaganda media doing everything within
its power to prevent it. Second, Brazil's Lula
has the nation poised for many improvements.
(This is "Good News Day" -- I won't get into
the GM soy that is helping some economic
gains.) What I find particularly positive is that
Lula comes from the country's poverty-
stricken northeast. He's a real mensch, as they
say, and he's risen to the highest office in
his country. Add in the orange armbands half
a world away in Kiev, and it is safe to say that
democracy is alive and well in the second world.
("GND" demands I don't mention the first and
third.)

3. On demand, In demand.
Finally, publishing and music are enjoying a
freedom unimaginable since the Industrial
Revolution. I've been introduced to dozens
of writers online without the intermediaries
at college reviews or larger magazines. Right
now, any musical act can give anyone in the
world an entire album on a website for free
and let them burn it. (Covers the fame angle
if not the money.) It has never been easier
to make an artistic statement and put it out
into the world. Imagine the difficulty in
disseminating fifty pages of poetry to an
international audience (even if it is twenty
people in the U.S. or U.K., and one person
in thirty other country) twenty years ago.
Publishing a reasonably attractive chapbook
would set one back at least a few hundred
dollars, and the postal fees and networking
to get it "out there" would be daunting. Now
it is free and easy. One can even receive comment
at the click of a button. This positive
development far outweighs the small
negatives... namely, when something's so
easy just about anyone can do it (on the
good side to that, we can better empathize
with the editors of magazines who must
sift through a mountain of submissions
for a gem) and getting paid is still every
bit as hard if not harder. Still, what a tool
we have. Only the noble crow is more
adept at shaping and using tools than you
and I. As writers, musicians, or any other
variant of vagrant one might be, it is
instructive to observe our friend in his
habits. You see, Corvus brachyrynchos
has a funny habit of irritating other birds
and instigating a chase just for the
sport of it. Though it is frustrating for
the less intelligent birds, it keeps the
crow interesting to the Brahman thus
sustaining him in this little blink of the
eye on earth. I think I'm going to instigate
a few e-mails. For sport, of course.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


"Years ago, I was an angry young man/ And I'd pretend that I was a billboard./ Standing tall, by the side of the road/ I fell in love with a beautiful highway." David Byrne

Notes on Records and Algae

I hate to admit this, but I drive... a lot.

Between the ages of nineteen and twenty-five, I must
have put out a ton of greenhouse gases into the
spheres. In my defense, the land travel I'd embarked
upon was done mostly in that fuel-efficient dynamo
known as the Ford Festiva. To give you an idea
of said efficiency: I once drove from Kansas City
to Puerto Vallarta and burned half a quart of
10-W30! I was also on a shoestring budget (needed
food and gin money for two people for two
months) and the price of petrol in Mexico
didn't decimate the funds. (I haven't been to
Mexico in a few years, but then petrol prices
were more than double that of the United
States. I didn't research that expense at the
time.)

Anyway, Hercules (the Festiva) escorted myself
and my wife to about 33 American states and
around 7 Mexican states. Add in a sea journey
across the Atlantic, Mediterranean and
Adriatic (including the fun spot of The Democratic
Republic of the Congo) and you might say I've
put in my fair share of fuel consumption before
reaching a quarter century in age.

And now...

A year ago we moved from downtown Kansas
City (yes, it exists) back to the welcoming
arms of Larrytown. Lawrence is a community
with an amazing vacuum effect. We left
it after Umut (wifey) graduated William Allen
White Journalism (now Strategic Communications)
School at KU and went, well, pretty much
everywhere. It is amazing how many
people we run into on every rung of the
social ladder who've done the same thing,
in varying degrees. People used to ask
Burroughs what exactly he found compelling
about a humble house on Learnard Street in
East Lawrence. I guess it's one of those things
that is.

She'd just finished a yearlong (I think that's AP
style) assignment at the Star and went on
to work for another publication. After
much soul searching, I decided to retain my
post in Kansas City and commute.

I was never a commuter before this. If my
automobile needed an oil change, it was
usually because I'd driven at least 1,500
miles of it in one direction. It is a bit
depressing to see how quickly a trip to
Presque Isle, Maine adds up on the
daily venture into Overland Park, KS
or Kansas City, MO.

I won't go on any further to lament how
this pattern of (I borrow from Homer)
"Honk, Honk Punch!" life is against everything
I stand for; rather, I'd like to offer a few
nice side effects of the lifestyle.

1. Reconnecting to a lot of old records.
When the drive doesn't correspond with
a local broadcast of Democracy Now, I
find myself listening to tapes (yes, tapes)
in the Volvo 940. (Hercules is still around,
but he hates cold and moisture... he's a
desert rat at heart like his father.)
When I buy a new album, it is always
on vinyl if I can help it (was, is and will
always be the superior way to transmit
tunes -- ask Neil Young or the archivists
at the Smithsonian) or a CD if necessity
calls. As a result, my car music is seldom
updated. (The cassette deck on my home
stereo isn't up to par, so I no longer make
blanks of records.) Like many things, this
frugality results in many pleasant
unintended consequences.

Among them, hearing music I'd almost
forgotten about. Three in particular really
struck me:

Naked, Talking Heads. "(Nothing But)
Flowers" is the best song ever written
in pop music. Period.

Underground Motion Picture Soundtrack,
Goran Bregovic. This album can turn
the mundane into the ecstatic. Like audio
Ouzo.

It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold
Us Back, Public Enemy. This album has
been back in the rotation (along with some
Gang of Four lps) ever since 3 November.
I was a kid when this came out, so I
didn't have the tools to digest it fully (though
it is probably responsible for many of
my views as an adult); but, as an adult,
I realize that Chuck D. and Co. made
a masterpiece there. It helps that George
the First was in power at the time.
PE should re-release (if they haven't) an
enhanced CD now. Relevant as ever.
Even for a Kansas cracker.

2. Quick nutrition.

I can't attribute it directly to auto
life, but many in my position may have
discovered the little beauty pictured above
(linked on the title) as a result. There
are three "machines" from these folks
that are my lifeblood... okay, those three
and Fat Tire ale... Two of which are
perfect for the holiday season. The Green
Machine is ideal for a wake up immune
booster, the Red for a heart-healthy
drive home companion. (I sometimes
wonder what goes through the heads
of the suburbanites when they see this
guy with the red beard chugging a
green vegetable shake with one hand,
puffing on a Camacho in the other, and
flowing along with Chuck to "Louder than
a Bomb" in-between breaths.)

"And what precisely," you might say, "does
any of this have to do with mythical language,
poetry, or anything at all relevant?"

To that, I refer to Monty Python's Meaning
of Life, in particular the waiter scene.

Friday, December 10, 2004

On a related note

Wangari Maathi received the Nobel Peace Prize
today. Some people get it. She had an interview
on 10 December's Morning Edition (npr.org.)
Didn't see a link posted there, but surely
there will be one by the end of today.

Finally saw I Heart Huckabees last night.
Worth a viewing if for no other reason than
Mark Wahlberg being the only actor in
the ensemble worth mentioning in the
same sentence as Tomlin and Hoffman.
(I would have been more than a little skeptical
if one proffered this as a possibility
back in the Calvin Klein underwear days!)

The protagonist's versifying was rather
a treat! (No, the irony wasn't lost on me.)

Given the way events impact arts (i.e.,
the worse things get the better art seems
to become) we are in for a whole
lot of good films, books and music
in the near future... most of it no doubt
appearing in spite of studios, executives,
etcetera.

No matter what happens, there is always
that woman in Kenya.

I am encouraged.*


*copyright A.D. Thomas. I think three words are still
in the fair use arena; however, that may change
in the course of new trade agreements. Nostrovia.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Not a Zarathustra booster.

Trois Freres, Container Gardening and Public Transportation.

The stated goal of this humble page (and by extension, its author)
is to research and develop a new narrative style for poetry.

Easy enough, eh?

I've been reevaluating the writing process lately, and I find
myself mired in a crisis of coherence.

The quest for the poetic ideal is a walk backwards. One might
start with the modernists. They're an appealing enough
group, with plenty of giant shoulders to stand upon.
And Ezra Pound can offer a sort of cheat code back in time
through his comprehensive analyses of poetry. It is
safe to suppose that many people have come to be
acquainted with Camoens, Li Po, Tu Fu, Provencal writings,
&c. &c. through Ez. (Once one is introduced to these
characters, it is incumbent upon him to read them
independent of Pound's assertions. Nevertheless,
for many Pound was him what brung ya', so it is
easier said than done.) "So, I'm in T'ang Dynasty China
on a direct ticket from a 1934 Nude Erections
paperback... guess there are a few blanks to fill in."

There are a myriad of directions in which one can go
now, and each person has his own course to follow. In the
interest of autobiography (this is the easiest way to
maintain some brevity in the backstory and get around
to the topic at hand) the road led to a wrestle with
Whitman, i.e., a love-hate pact that ended eventually
with the latter half of the equation dissipating; a
fascination with Burns and MacDiarmid; ecstatic
poetry from Urdu and Farsi; all the English regulars;
and on and on, crisscrossing centuries with no
particular map.

Through all this, it seems evident that the sorts and
conditions of poets from Bion to Baraka fall into one
of two categories: The Classic and The Mythic.
Especially now, where the world seems divided
neatly by the diametrically opposed notions of
science and "faith," for lack of a better world.

In the 21st century, I would posit that "Science" can
be broken into subcategories that include detached
observation, industrialization, technology and
humanism. "Faith" is the province of Auld Time
Religion, Luddism, and all things mystical.

As with everything, science and faith share
more commonalities on some planes than one
might find within their subgroups.

An example: the scientific outlook of observation
and humanism may well lead to Luddism. The more
we know about ecology, the more we are made
aware that the creature comforts of modern living
will one day be the snake we brought in from the
cold. Though a "back to the land" movement has
roots in a sort of Paleolithic consciousness, it is
a worldview fostered by understanding of biological
relationships. Likewise, industry and modernization
lead to sprawl and devastation, which fit nicely
with the Judaeo-Christian idea of dominion.

So, The Classic and The Mythic intersect. A concrete
poetic illustration of this might be Auden's assertion
that Graves was England's best poet.

What of the origins, then? Shall we take our cue
from the Neolithic or High Neolithic, from settled
society with its advances and vicissitudes? Or,
shall we commune with the Paleolithic, the
shamanistic impulse that was a product of
the hunt?

I propose a syncretistic approach.

Direct Language. From our Paleolithic progenitors,
we inherit the ethos of immediacy. There is no use
in planting flowerbeds around a yurt that you'll
roll up when the first storm comes. The better
language for transcendental transport is that of
grass, the more utilitarian vegetation. I hate to
keep bringing up Ted Hughes, but it seems to me
his poetry was the gold standard for this sort
of muscular verse. Eschewing "form" is a
hunter-gatherer quality as well. Blank and
free verse are mediums best suited
not only to this mindset, but to the English
language as well. The strict forms are companions
of Romance and Near Eastern languages.
Our bastard tongue has somewhat
native forms, of course; yet, it is a trifle
anachronistic to compose in alliterative lifts
and dips in this day and age. (Besides, blank verse
provides stresses and rhythms that recall
our Anglo-Saxon beginnings.)

Theme. Here's where the syncretizing plays
largely. Of course, there's the truism that
unless you're Phil Ochs, 80% or more of your
"songs" are about women. (Opposite sex in
general.) Naturally, romantic love has always
been a prominent theme. In macro, that would
deal with the life cycle. The planting cultures
provided us an outlook dealing primarily with
community relationships, to wit, the wheat seed
is nothing until it dies and causes regeneration.
To paraphrase Solzhenitsyn, the writer who
doesn't focus on the life cycle, be it in the political
or purely scientific sense, is barking with the
village dogs. It is a bit late in the game to be
writing about one's feelings towards the suburban
ennui of an associate professor of literature
in Providence. We are living in a time of ecocide,
and with that understanding it is of grave importance
that the collective consciousness is raised at least
as quickly as high tide in Kiribati. If that doesn't
float your boat as an artist, you may choose to
deal with the hundred thousand or so lives lost
in our little colonial adventure through
Mesopotamia. This global communitarianism
is our Neolithic inheritance.

Our hunting ancestors can provide us with
a mythological framework for the Gaia Principle
and the long overdue dismissal of Descartes's
syphilitic doctrine regarding nonhuman animals.
I would point to the Venus of Laussel for the
first and just about any buffalo dance for the
second. The post-Christian history of global
society is informed by pre-Christian mythology.

Without a return to those reverential
practices, we'll remain monsters and slaves.

The life cycle theme bridges the eternal themes
of romantic love and informed animism, while
leaving latitude for decidedly more self-
interested concerns. After all, the individual's
life is part of that cycle. One can lament individual
pains; however, it is incumbent upon him
to address them with an understanding of
proportion.

To summarize, the advancement of poetry
lies in its beginnings. One needn't go directly
to the root, but one must incorporate the
origins to return poetry to its status as
transmitter of mythology and social mirror.
This is for the good of our culture, and in that
respect may assist in rescuing a
civilization staring directly down the
precipice of the abyss.

Why, then, revert to old modes of
thought? Well, only a fool strives to do
something new under the sun. Poetry
hinges on a continuum of influence. Further,
the old modes of thought serve us far
better than the current one.

Today's verse is lacking in oceanic appeal.
The effectiveness of poetry lies in an
unquantifiable emotional impact. I do not
know what makes Leaves of Grass able to
bring one back to his youth, but I know that
it does. I am not sure why Moortown makes
a person's perception of brown patches within
a wide field of grass more finely tuned, but
it seems to. I could go on with this ad infinitum.
Essentially, poetry worth reading has a gut
impact that transcends other writing. The
marriage of ideas and musicality is powerful
beyond our understanding. How often does one
experience this with contemporary poetry?
The aesthetic ethos of coolness (detachment,
choose your word) leaves the reader squarely
in the pedestrian world. Speaking strictly for
myself, if I want to remain in the pedestrian
world, I'll read the New York Times. Poetry
should provide us with far more than that.

***

Alright, then. As a template for this Classic-
Mythic, Science-Faith marriage, I'll present
a poem that has been perfectly written.

Which is to say, it works within the aesthetic
construct I propose for the resurrection of
English poetry in the world... Namely, its subject
matter is that of the life cycle; its language is
bereft of fat; and it has an oceanic element that
transports the reader from his chair into a
trance-like unconsciousness. I'm sure you can
guess the author.

Lineage

In the beginning was Scream
Who begat Blood
Who begat Eye
Who begat Fear
Who begat Wing
Who begat Bone
Who begat Granite
Who begat Violet
Who begat Guitar
Who begat Sweat
Who begat Adam
Who begat Mary
Who begat God
Who begat Nothing
Who begat Never
Never Never Never

Who begat Crow

Screaming for Blood
Grubs, crusts
Anything

Trembling featherless elbows in the nest's filth


I'd be remiss without mentioning that this poem,
from Crow serves its own ends within that work.
I am pointing to it because one can divorce it
from the larger work for the stated purpose and
use it as an example.

Poem 12...Animism .

Auden insulated himself,
though ineffectively.

We read biographies,
pore over notes.

We know about Kallman,
about Kirchstetten.

We worship Hemingway,
and all his faults

as he gathered totems
around himself.

Skulls and heads,
full skins with the face still on...

His prey. The White Man's way
of giving tribute.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Stars and Heavens... poem 11.

One danger of this format is that one can compose a writing
and instantly post it -- without regard to revision, etcetera.

One benefit of this format is that one can compose a writing
and instantly post it -- without regard to revision, etcetera.


The Stars and Heavens
I don't concern myself with the Sea,
with Its tides and movements with
your vain mythologies.
The skies could cause the tides to rise
tomorrow,
and the deluge could engulf your progeny
wholesale...
it wouldn't trouble me
any more than a squashed roach.

Your lands could be given to the Sea,
your lungs collectively swallowed
in the salt,
and my complexion would be unchanged.
The rivers would cease to know themselves,
and the epochs would recede,
and your history would end,
and my existence still phosphorus beads
is the same.
An open book in a language you cannot read.

Still, you seek communion with my essence,
my gods,
the breath of which is
nothing
to you,
is
your nothingness. If there is any reaction,
it is likely laughter.

While you ignore your own deity,
and seek the favor of mine? As though each
didn't know of the other. Now,
come on.
I don't concern myself with the Sea,
with Its colic and coughing with
your unintended consequences; but,

you'd damn well better.

Fragments

i.
liquored up in birmingham
the steel smells like rain.

ii.
a metric foot.
contradictions?

iii.
That what we recognize as civilization
viewed Descartes as an enlightenment
speaks volumes to our backwardness.

iv.
Were it not for Seasonal Affective Disorder,
how many great poets
would Scotland give us?