Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Unpunished Vice

Poetry moves me as nothing else does.
“Moves” is the wrong word.
Only paintings do it too.
And ballet and jazz and wine and sex
Everything does it.  The piercing blue eyes
Of Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia
Never did it.  I am the wrong person
To ask.  Anyway no one is asking.
I must remember to read, to read more.
It is strange what it does to the soul.
Time evaporates.  Journey to the Moon
Is a philosophical novel by Cyrano de Bergerac,
A facetious and irreverent man
With a big nose.  It was there
He exercised true freedom of imagination.
God was hard to kill, like a hydra.
I don’t give a damn what Byron says.
About anything.  Byron used to have it.
Victor Hugo used to have it.  Keats didn’t
Have it.  Now they don’t and he does.
Emily Dickinson didn’t use to have it.
Milton had it, then didn’t, now has it again.
Shakespeare has always had it.
Homer too.  Ashbery, Stevens, Borges
Kenneth Koch, Whitman, Neruda, Rimbaud,
Michaux, Lamartine, Schuyler
Baudelaire, Stein, Bukowski, Donne,
Apollinaire.  On the subway I saw
A spectacled man reading a book,
A thick book, with a title in Chinese.
Totally intent, he had a faraway look,
His total being gathered in that gaze,
In that book.  “Pleasure” is the wrong word.
These intransitive declarations I make
To the night.  I have a key to the earth.

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