Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Leaves in a Drained Swimming Pool by Dean Young
Leaves in a Drained Swimming Pool
by Dean Young
Poetry is an art of beginnings and ends. You want middles, read novels. You want happy endings, read cookbooks. Not closure, word filtched from self-help fuzzing the argument. Endsville. Kaput. Form is the shape of the selecting intelligence because time is running out. Form enacts fatality. To pretend otherwise is obfuscation, philosophical hub-bub of the worst sort. A lie. We die. We go to art to learn the unlearnable, experience the unexperiencable. Art reports back. Form is the connect, primal haunt, carbon chain end-stopped. You can tell it’s late because we prefer the songs of Orpheus after he’s torn apart. Pattern as much a deficiency as a realization. No one gets to count forever. Irreverence is irrelevant’s revenge. When you slice yourself open, you don’t find a construct. Bloom rhyming with doom pretty much took care of Keats. Wire in the monkey’s diencephalon prints out a wave most beautiful. Open form prone to mouse-droppings just as closed to suffocation. The river swims in the fish. The giraffe goes knock-kneed to drink. The girl ties back her hair in a universal gesture. Theories about art aren’t art any more than a description of an aphid is an aphid. A menu isn’t a meal. We’re trying to build birds, not birdhouses. Put your trust in the inexhaustible nature of the murmur, Breton said that and know when to shut up, I’m saying that. We’re not equations with hats. Nothing appears without an edge. There’s nothing worse than a poem that doesn’t stop. No one lives in a box. The heart isn’t grown on a grid. The ship has sailed and the trail is shiny in the dew. Door slam, howling in the wood, rumble strips before the toll booth. Enter: Fortinbras. Ovipositor. Snow. Bam bam bam, let’s get out of here. What I know about form couldn’t fill a thimble. What form knows about me will be my end.
"The effects of radioative particles on the human body, so topical in 1959, are nothing new to old poetry-lovers. Used with moderation, a first-class verse is an excellent and usually fast-working form of heat therapy. Once, in the Army, when I had what might be termed ambulatory pleurisy for something over three months, my first real relief came only when I had placed a perfectly innocent-looking Blake lyric in my shirt pocket and worn it like a poultice for a day or so. Extremes, though, are always risky and ordinarily downright baneful, and the dangers of prolonged contact with any poetry that seems to exceed what we most familiarly know of the first-class are formidable..." ~J. D. Salinger, New Yorker article
I purchased an old white, long-sleeved man's shirt in a thrift store recently. I am slowly filling it with black sharpie-written poetry. I will wear it for weeks as pain medication and get back to you on Salinger's prescription.