Tuesday, April 16, 2013

16 apr 2013

I don't know what this is, do you?


I hang by my feet to sleep
wrapped in wings
shoulder-to-shoulder companioned
at dusk
maelstrom unfurling
our night life swoops

like swallows
at one patch of sand in the San Lorenzo River
the whirl of ashes skyward
rows of soldiers below
neverending touch-&-gos

spangled mallards in three-duck formation
scan for landing
every pass a tighter curl
they lock on target, shallow glide
into splashes & skids
the water hardly disturbed

next to Ray on the plane
the woman suffers a heart attack
(it wasn’t something he said)
Afaa’s class in Boston takes on Mother Courage
someone is always standing
at ground zero

detonated transform
body to mist
body heat to warmer air
better to dissolve completely
than remain grievously injured
bystanders spattered

in south Florida
hunters waited for spring
to target rookeries — heron, ibis, egret —
they killed the nesting pairs
for feathered hats, not hate
their families so poor they fed on gull eggs

still, even now
people ask
how can it happen here?
so placid with insular contemplation
does not equate to protection

the strong wind knocks down new-leafed branches
scatters orange petals
iris & agapanthus open in their place
the flowering maple
is not maple but Chinese lantern, Indian mallow
cousin to flannel flower

Abutilonflowering maple

helot conquered indigenous population of Spartan city-state; provided agricultural labor for Spartan landowners; only semi-free; largest population of Spartan city-state

particule — esp. in French, a preposition that precedes a family name

Richard Sieburth [courtesy of New Directions]

from Richard Sieburth’s Instigations: Ezra Pound and Remy de Gourmont:

Whereas the white heat of Voltairean wit is stoked by savage indignation, Gourmont’s cooler style instead affects the bemused disdain of the aristocrat who takes a prophylactic distance from the fray. Voltaire undertakes swift sorties against the enemy; Gourmont’s Symbolist tactic is rather one of strategic retreat: “If one happens to wish for a derailment, one must speak, one must write, one must smile, one must abstain — this is crucial — from all civic life . . . One must poison Authority, slowly, playfully . . . One must remain perfectly indifferent; irony in one’s eyes, one must make one’s way through the tangle of anti-liberal laws." Though the target of Gourmont’s irony may be the same as Voltaire’s (that is, authority in all its guises), his pose on the whole rather recalls the nineteenth-century dandy’s more apolitical mode of subversion. All dandies, Baudelaire had recognized,

share the same disposition to opposition and revolt; all are representative of what is finest in human pride, this need, all too rare today, to fight and destroy triviality. Among dandies, this is what gives birth to that haughty attitude which, even in its coldness, bespeaks a caste of provocateurs. Dandyism surfaces especially during transitional periods, when democracy is not yet all-powerful and the aristocracy is only partially tottering and debased. In the turmoil of these periods, a handful of men [sic] — disinherited, disgusted, idle, but with a wealth of native energy — can conceive the project of founding a new kind of aristocracy, one which will be all the more difficult to smash because based on the most precious and most indestructible of abilities, on those heavenly gifts which neither work nor money can confer. Dandyism is the last burst of heroism in decadences.

Pound . . . agreed with Baudelaire that “the aristocracy of entail and of title has decayed, the aristocracy of commerce is decaying, the aristocracy of the arts is ready again for service.”:

There is no truce between art and the vulgo. There is a constant and irrefutable alliance between art and the oppressed. The people have never objected to obscurity in ballads. The bitterest and most poignant songs have often been written in cypher — of necessity.

1 comment:

  1. Love the poem, such gorgeous language. You didn't read my blog post, but this is a Call and Answer to it, for sure. ("Beautiful is not relevant any more")

    That mystery plant brought me to this blog: