Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why Not Poetry?

One of the 36 Poetic Geniuses
Because, although I had excellent masters, my poems are always self-indulgent, thus:

Every time
I look at you
I just want to steal the doorknob, 
and leave. 
(c. 1978)


Many of my poems are longer than that...

(STOP. You don't have to continue. When you get to the end, I'm going to ask you to recommend poems to me. You can just do that now.)


Midsummer Night’s Dream
(Reflections on marriage, June 21, 2003)

I.

Marriage is a crosswords puzzle
with the squiggly-line convention
for “When two things don’t go together”
and the blacked-out squares
where nothing is
or nothing is known.

It is terrifying really
when you know
you will have to figure it out.

No matter how many number 2’s it takes:

Infinity
or whatever you have of future

That’s how long you have to find the right words.

II.

Marriage is a cave painting

a sort of stick figure hieroglyphic
of a dream of great subtlety.

Sometimes there are painted hands
just as often
the image of where a hand once was
and isn’t any more.

The motives of the painters
are as unknown as the past
as unknown as
animals that used to be
but aren’t any more:

            Five-horned mouse-deers
            Laughing owls
            Carolina Parakeets

                        “They ain’t any horses here then
                        and none now then
                        as I know.
                        They once was,
                        but they ain’t horses now.”

                        . . .  is the only explanation, you’re going to get
                        and it doesn’t make sense.


III.

Marriage is an endless renovation of an ancestral home

When the foundation was laid
there was no metal but ore.

The fundamental rule:

            Always use the simplest tool possible.

The work continues even while you sleep:

You watch your hands pulling away the years,
other tenants best laid plans
stripping away to the rough planks
to find drawings done in carpenter’s pencil.

Animals everywhere
mostly large predators.

The lines are confident

Then you discover there are drawings of hands drawing the animals.

Further on, there is a picture of a “mechanical hand”
It is drawing the hands that drew the animals.

Its presence is inexplicable.


...but they are all bad. And that is a very good reason not to write poetry.

But I do like to read poetry--and I'm always interested in finding something wonderful. Can you recommend anything?
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