a name flickers by on the monitor. here, gone. long enough. like a subliminal ad in the movies for coke, it is enough. i've got it. rexroth.
b/c of this i do some research and find:
A Farewell to Southern Melody
The day will come when I will
Share once more the quilts
And pillows I am storing
Away. Once more I will shyly
Let you undress me and gently
Unlock my sealed jewel.
I can never describe the
Ten thousand beautiful sensual
Ways we will make love.
Huang O, translated by Kenneth Rexroth
well well well
a kindred spirit
i feel less the fool
i show it to professor eliot. he explains a little about erotic poetry, it's nature (obvious), origins (way back), and place in chinese literature (falls in and out of favor, emphasis on in and out). this little poem was written during the ming dynasty. huang o lived from 1498 to 1569.
we talk about the legitimacy of erotic poetry, and when it is appropriate. we talk about culture and society, then and now. he supposes, like all social mores, tolerance for that sort of thing depends on a world of external factors. in periods when holier than thou politicians are in power, such poetry, along with most, if not all, art forms, and most, if not all, scientific thought, is viewed skeptically at best, and artist and scientists, and free thinkers of all ilk had better be prepared to shut up or pay the price. galileo galilei and pussy riot come to mind.
but erotic poetry is different, in that its artist value is questionable. as for its scientific value, ironically there is some basis: combine a reading of huang o with an e.e.g., and measurable scientific facts will emerge. which does nothing to further its case in the court of conservative opinion (despite what goes on in conservative bedrooms).
it comes down to this, says professor eliot. be prepared to suffer for your art, because it will not be seen as art, it will be a sideshow. do you want to go there?
he puts it another way, i paraphrase: when romeo declares his (pitiful) love to juliet, what is it that he's declaring? this is a rhetorical question, i wait for the answer. he's declaring his love, his passion, his heart. do i have to spell it out?
i catch his drift.
i pose a question: given that, and given how i feel, which is a propensity or proclivity, depending on how it is perceived, for the sexy stuff, should i stifle it, or consign it to ribbon-wrapped bundles in little bureau drawers?
he asks if i've read "lady chatterly's lover." i have, though i say i prefer "the rainbow." he asks if i know the history of its publication. i do, generally. it was once banned, now it's taught in english lit 101. then he asks the obvious question, is it art, that is to say, literature, or is jaqueline susann?
who? i say.
is it prurient? he rephrases the question.
we talk about literature in general, about the timeline, how a novel like chatterly has less value as story, and more in its place in literature. just as the powers that be were not ready to hear galileo's theories, the world was not quite ready to read about lady chatterly's needs. if it were written now, chances are it would would sell poorly. it is wordy. fifty shades of gray, or is it grey, would top it.
professor eliot continues, and again, i paraphrase, the erotic nature of chatterly caused its celebrity, but there were untold numbers of erotic stories and novels being written and sold. there always were, there always will be.
something set chatterly apart. what was it?
i've been living alone for a while. terri, as i said, is pursuing other interests. i walk home from campus, hydrate, eat a banana, put on my spandex and brooks, go for a run and consider what we talked about. i can see it, i know where he was leading me, but i can't see it clearly and i don't know precisely where he was leading me. given the fact that i'm not d. h. lawrence, and my little poems are not going to cause controversy or make me famous (or infamous), but pass almost unnoticed, what am i trying to accomplish?
i run to the park, powering up the hills and taking it easy going down to save my knees.
i can see what i'm doing, i'm writing what i feel. i'm being honest with myself and my feelings, but i'm also consciously evoking feelings of pleasure, i don't know how else to put it. i like it. in the process i waver between writing seriously and having fun. john donne was having fun, too, but he used his fun to further his artistic goal (i guess).
am i lawrence or susann?
i admire the view from the park, the glimpses of the bay, the ocean, the golden gate bridge, the city center. it's hard not to.
this isn't rocket science. i having fun writing for the site, but it is messing with my seminar writing. professor eliot is putting me on notice.
i run from home through the park to the presidio, take a long, wandering route through back through the park, then home. it's fourteen miles. it's a pretty day. i'm remembering a day when i was seven or eight. it was spring, a day like today. i was at the park with my best friend. my dad and brother were there, playing catch.
i remember the ground was dry and warm after a long winter, that we sat on the grass and leaned against a big tree, and i remember feeling a certain way, and now that i think about it, i think what i was feeling was sensuality. the warm earth, the sun, spring.
how do thoughts like this become a poem? i want to convey the day, and the inkling of sensuality. is this a sonnet or haiku or free verse in meter and rhyme? i feel like meter and rhyme will kill it, but professor eliot needs something more than feeling. whatever structure i choose, it needs to be intentional, it needs to fit my thoughts and add to the poem. yet the image and my memory are minimal. so, i guess i need minimalist.
i get home and cool down and drink powerade and take a shower. i look through all my reference books on poetry, i have seven, all very good, and not one has the word "minimal" or "minimalistic" in the index. i do find something that is, at least, connected to what i'm thinking. it's a discussion of descriptive poetry. as an example there is this poem by donald justice:
My South: On the Porch
There used to be a way the sunlight caught
The cocoons of caterpillars in the pecans.
A boy's shadow would lengthen to a man's
Across the yard then, slowly. And if you thought
Some sleepy god had dreamed it all up—well,
There was my grandfather, Lincoln-tall and solemn,
Tapping his pipe out on a white-flaked column,
Carefully, carefully, as though it were his job.
And we would watch the pip-stars as they fell.
As for the quiet, the same train always broke it.
Then the great silver watch rose from his pocket
For us to check the hour, the dark fob
Dangling the watch between us like the moon.
It would be evening soon then, very soon.
i love this poem. it has nothing to do with me or my life, seemingly, but it does, this boyhood memory. why is this any different than my memory of my spring day in the park with my friend? a different era, different circs, different characters and specifics, but the same idea.
i explained a while ago how i came to love sonnets, the christmas shopping day at barnes & noble, the carriage driver in a black wool cape-coat, covered with white horse hair, how he showed me the book, and how i came to see fourteen lines as somehow perfect.
i see my poem forming in fourteen lines, but short lines. i have less to say, fewer images.
after a long winter
the earth is warm and dry.
we lean, the two of us,
against the rough trunk
of an old tree,
faces to the sun.
in the distance
we hear the sound
of a baseball slapping a mitt,
and the indistinct voices
of a man and a boy.
i press my cheek to the ground,
my fingertips graze the new grass.
i'll give it some thought.
this is a time of contradictions
i have to learn what it means to be alone
to close doors.
Poetry by one trick pony
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Written on 2015-03-19 at 04:40
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