Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Penultimate Words

The purpose of the artist is to make beauty
Real to us. The artist needs to be granted peace
And food and drink. We should allow
The artist what's deserved. His pursuit
Is noble beyond the hunt; he is the fruit
Of centuries of counts and is every inch a prince.
Get it? You might train him to dance
On the end of a chain, but he's crafty, that one,
Watch him now. Here is how he
Beckons beauty in: His mother and the whores alike
Rush to his aid. Here is how he makes beauty
Real: By showing us the scuffed boot
And the sugar stipple of dirt along the ruff
Of her petticoat. He should have had
A dozen castles. There's no need to beat the man.
Give him his stick. Pour him a drink,
The poor damned fool; he will never be forgiven,
He will always want for more. Show him
A landscape and the artist will take a shit
On it. Process is critical to the artist's
Creation. His process incorporates his own
Destruction, we'll give him that. Well done.
We won't miss the moment when the trumpet sounds--
That punchline of a last word
When the prey is taken down.

Video: Toulouse-Lautrec's last words were "Le vieux con," generally believed to have been directed at his father.


libramoon said...


Slothrop said...

The tension here is almost nerve-wracking. Have to admit I never looked at art quite this way before; and I've read "The Hunchback in the Park." But you cut to the heart of his invalid nature a lot better. I mean, we're obviously not talking about Thomas Kinkade here. And after your last two lines I had to read the whole poem over again. I love that. Just like I love your near-rhymes. I feel as though I want to hear the hunt in your rhythms - more gallop, flow - but that may be impossible to do while still evoking something unresolvable. Hell yes; if only more artists were bears.

I had an honest-to-goodness, sleeping-at-night dream about your poetry. I transcribe it completely unchanged and devoid of commentary:

After work I entered my house. It was my house but nicer: ornate panels of ebony or teak, finely wrought chairs and banisters, sweeping stairways rising to palatial rooms. I barely had time to sit down at a round table before it began: hundreds of poems bursting in. Sliding through cracks in the walls, the spaces under doors and windows, rolling themselves up and wriggling through keyholes. They fluttered in the air like doves, rapt, multitudinous, then alighted in chairs around my table in snowy heaps.

I was nervous. It had been ages since I had played host. I thought manners dictated herbal tea for all, so I set a cup before each poem and put on the kettle. After all had drunk the poems asked (in one, raw whisper) "Read us."

I nodded and began. My voice was self-conscious, hoarse; I soon realized I wasn't reading your poems but a story from Denis Johnson's "Jesus' Son" about a car crash while hitchhiking. It melded into a real memory of hitchhiking in Syria and winding up lost at an abandoned mountain castle full of hummingbirds. Suddenly the words were yours: castles and tombs, maypoles, herb gardens, mead and Clark Kent. All of my hairs on end. The poems were exultant. They sang and shimmered, glistened and rang. As I read I saw everything, far more starkly than when awake. They were music and shadow, eyewall and font.

When they finally flew off I was wrung drier than the teacups on the table. Yet exhilarated. Tomorrow, again, I told myself. The next afternoon I raced home, running red lights, barely suppressing my excitement. But when I reached my house a work truck was parked in the drive. A carpenter was cementing shut all of my house's notches, cracks and holes. "Who told you to do this?" I shouted. "No ingles."

I pushed past him into the living room. A 50-ish man in a business suit paced my floor with his head down and his arms folded behind his back. Without looking up he said, "I trust this will put an end to our...burglary...problem."

Sally Wilde said...

I think National Poetry Month ripped the curtain between dimensions, man. There may be consequences we don't even know about yet...;) I do know i was writing a little too fast and furious. But sweet dreams to you!