May 07, 2006

Two Fake Poems, imagined during a slow Fountain Shift

Should poetry just be a list of imagery? Some poets have thrived on playing with ideas, like John Donne with his theological twists, but never describing the birds sporting whilst on your solitary walks thru nature. For the sake of argument, I will invent two fake American poems. In the first, a woman is walking along a desolate beach in the early spring, she describes the sparseness, the cold wind, & finds a long, endless string which could have come from a kite. Is this a metaphor? We don’t know. Perhaps she doesn’t know, but she would prefer something ambiguous rather than spell out something too obvious to us; or maybe it’s just an auxiliary detail. She’s trying to get to her dream house, where she pictures herself retiring & reading boring books; but the wind is too cold, so she turns back. Was the infinite string, attached to nothing & now quite useless, related in any way to her inability to get to her fantasy withdrawal? Or the harshness of the spring some sort of stages-of-life thing? Maybe it's a Lewis Carroll / the Walrus & the Carpenter reference? Perhaps turning back is like being afraid to commit suicide too early in life. Whatever it means, most of the poem is a rather boring description of things on a beach which she can & cannot get to.

The second poem is actually a short story written in very beautiful, metered prose, a poem in disguise. A man has bought a country house, an old farmhouse near the mountains, which lacks a deck. Thinking that a deck is essential for the contemplation of the mountains, he builds one to the north, despite the poo-pooing of his neighbors, whose decks all face the south. There he sits, despite the season or weather, & finds a fairy-like gleam on one mountain peak. He then decides to investigate the mystic glow, & poetically describes all of the boring flora & fauna on his hike. At the top, there is a sad girl in a cottage who spends her time hating her beautiful life & wondering who lives in the farmhouse that looks up at her. Is it the poet from the first poem? What's she doing up in that mountain? If she's so unhappy in her reclusion, why doesn't she leave? Why doesn't the man tell her that he's the one who lives in the farmhouse with the deck?

I would never suggest that anyone write either of these two short poems, but could there be a way to insert a little reason or inter-relatedness into any of this detailed but meaningless imagery? Have all Americans done since the inception of their Literature is describe what a nice country we have in which to take boring walks & notice things? This sort of written behavior should have died with Wordsworth & his gay followers. Get up off of your deck, man, & go sailing or get a job or study theological twists or something. You know who you are!

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