Monthly Archives: May 2016

The poem “Sliding scale” followed by poet’s notes

Sliding scale

The physical thisness
of the question
available qualities
spinning infections incubation.
Because everything noted,
circulation,
oblong rebuttal
post neo anti macro
prenatal capacity
turns inward,
swinging plaintively
release phase obvious
carries forward. . .
Suppressed direction alone
tends to happen
exactly in terms
of waxwing.
I recommend
upending the oblong
structure of reinvention.
Move deeper this idea
allowing
forehead cool
(Don’t forget to breathe.)
footsies warm repeat
associated and now
like anybody else
damaged vision
downward dog
truly bleeding the role
where you have
sympathetic emergency of focus.
Probably impossible
but you promised.
The acupuncturist leaves
one in for the road.

    This poem rises out of the attitude that the world is not a logical, coherent place. Only the very surface of consensual reality is comprehensible. In fact we have all but lost control of our destiny. Once we look a little below the surface, if we dare, we see chaos. Still, we go on pretending that things make more or less sense. But I think it’s time to admit that a nonsensical approach to understanding the world might be just as fruitful or effective as proceeding by logic.

    In this poem the language is dodgy. It refuses to hold still. Just when it seems to be saying something intelligible it swerves off, like when the lead of a pencil breaks mid sentence. Take the sentence “Suppressed direction alone / tends to happen exactly in terms / of waxwing.” Waxwing is a bird. So the promise of “exactly” is completely misleading and we are left with the image of a bird, however we picture it . . . something wild, beyond our grasp.

    I find myself attracted to this kind of poetry when the world, as I experience it, seems to be spinning out of control. It’s homeopathic poetry. I react to the craziness of events with my own brand of craziness, only the craziness I offer as the antidote is the opposite of the craziness of world events. In the world, the craziness is a cover for even more profound incoherence. In this kind of poetry, the craziness is surface but right below the language there is a sanity that comes as a surprise. For example the last two lines: “The acupuncturist leaves / one in for the road.” Maybe the acupuncturist left a needle in by mistake but the metaphor is all about healing beyond the literal treatment. And there is the double meaning of “for the road”. The needle that the healer leaves in could be, just as the poem says, “for” the road or for the healing of the path we are walking.

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“Riding the elephant” and why I wrote it

Riding the elephant
 
There is an elephant king
lying flat out on the ground,
wasted.
His life was giving rides.
 
I know exactly how he feels,
that’s the crazy part . . .
To be used I mean,
by those with tiny dreams.
 
(Elephants actually walk on their toes!
They barely make a sound
because the pads of their feet
surround what they step on.)
 
This old one is done tip-toeing,
is lying in the dust,
imprisoned by the scale
of what used to be his eminence!
 
His trumpeting voice
reduced to a mere
fluting in his brain;
whatever he once wanted to trumpet.
 
He used to dream of rampaging
through the village,
bulldozing huts,
scattering the tiny people.
 
How hard it is sometimes
to remember
to be proud
of what we are.

Elephants have always been special to me. They are one of those animals that I rate as superior to humans, even by the standards we impose to establish our supposed superiority to all other forms of life. They are wise and thoughtful, intelligent and soulful. They are  personable, private and sociable. Continue reading