To Chris van Deventer, with gratitude
Accidentally inspired by S.G.S. and Emil,
two unlikely birds of a feather
none of the words, you know, matter; after a time, it's not that hard to tell if you're truly on course or
on some vanity trip: it's the sweat, sleepless nights, the
dumb labour of it, not: how much can be said, how much has
already been said, and why?
other writers' words feed my very soul; no wonder, then, that mine should be
all of my words . . . how could they create
laughter through the flame?
they are merely fuel; they burn
they keep me warm
the same poets reading over and
over again in the same venues; I am enamoured with them a bit
more each time and with
how could we really think that we are fashioning speech more un-
usual than a stock market or weather
when our speech itself is the stock market
when our speech itself is the weather
none of the words—we type away—on and on—most of us living lives
ordinary but with great courage—are we sick to think that our
I don't like you but I once did—is there anything worse
than a creature who lives only to never write
Let us now say plainly that I am incontrovertibly enamoured with poetry, enraptured by it, obsessed with it and in this obsession come to understand it profoundly. Yes, if I could marry it, I probably would. It thus behooves me to disagree, in the most emphatic way, with Charles Bukowski, in whose poem "the wasted profession," a disingenuous question follows a curmudgeonly remonstrance:
I don't like us and I never did—is there anything worse
than a creature who lives only to write
Ah, Henry! Ah, humanity! This is what's worse, this cynical, literal reading of the world and the word. To my dying breath I will contend that—beyond all the ars poetica ad nauseam, beyond all the perturbations and protestations, endless writing and writhing, agon and agony, reading and roaming, collecting and correcting, destroying and distracting, creating and procreating, sharing and oversharing—there is something, there will always be something ever-so-beautifully, ironically ineffable, something whose calculus, despite a persistent error in the equation, adds up to nothing less than a life-sustaining force, a Borgesian mapping of one's very soul, the confirmation of the final, consecrated iamness of self.
As counterpoint to the above feculence that has been haunting me since November, I'd like to place the stern succour of Stanley Cooperman's reminder, embedded in the poem "Cannibals," which makes it unmistakably clear that the poet, the artist, is the only one who perhaps lives at all.
Listen, I sniff every petal
with my own nose,
are private as your underwear,
and the sound
of my breath grows
from my skull:
I plant my name
Thus, for any creature that takes to astringent obloquy in a fit of pride, in stubborn service of living for anything less than—ποίησις—the creation, from thin air, of that which did not exist before—I reserve nothing but pity. Dixi.