Sunday After Life

If it’s as true as rumored that the dead occupy planets in the far-reaches of our galaxy through celestial heavens so far misspoken of in literature and religious texts, then I have a deep need to master space travel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If it’s as true as rumored that the dead occupy planets in the far-reaches of our galaxy through celestial heavens so far misspoken of in literature and religious texts, then I have a deep need to master space travel.

It’s not hotter than too hot yet I’m sitting in a shade drenched in humidity over 90 degrees while flies populate and breezy by.

The puppies are mud-ensconced in their kennel while I drink somewhat warm coffee and hallucinate desert hills, cool nights and more: cold drinks, night sky without bugs, music. Contentment.
Nobody else is outside on the afternoon lawns reminiscent of landing strips in Phoenix in summertime.

Wages are way below poverty level but the happy horseshit of not saying anything so they don’t find some other more desperate to only eat government cheese extends through the days and nights.

This might feel like I have time to write but that’s a lie: between hours occupied by kids and noise, recuperation of quiet, solitude to do is a matter of cannibalizing attitude making me indifferent to existence as it is though there might be some sentimental attachment to after-effects – if only because I can’t grasp a well-being sufficiently altered to express in my being a gratitude of joy I’ve known when a balance persisted due to my own efforts.

I do recall working and aiming for more than this; not settling, nor compromising. But not having complete enough control – i.e. enough cash – to weather imbalances meant it went sideways and down.
Not difficult to believe but to experience that without enough money you don’t get that sunny and smiling calm no matter what age even minus such extravagances such as choices in more than foods: there really are no extras without the moolah.

And if you reach this age absent friends and immediate relatives, you don’t even have the horizon any more.
Just a bunch of drooling, grey-headed, Alzheimered goobers more certain than ever of the righteousness of their opinions on everything. That’s where you’ve been relegated.
Shit, what’re you going to contribute? If anyone had been interested, this wouldn’t be occurring. And you don’t have the funds, the social grouping, nor the expectation you’ll dispense anything of value or interest.

No problem if you were always one of those who believed breathing was sufficient to occupy the earth and justify living – but if not, harder times without the hope of betterment in the face of a pervasive ignoramus standard of no one gives a shit, you’re not struggling against obvious dictators, you’ve had years… you’ve lived.

What’s truly odd though is: my thought that I once considered the fact that if you were intelligent enough to be aware of these things it meant you weren’t susceptible.
And that travelling to outer planets meant soul growth: that losing the life uncramped by lack of funds suggested there’d be other compensations.

That you’d remain whole, integral, and sufficient unto yourself.

And if not, you’d not experience such a protracted dying unattended by actual illnesses while supplying the impression of some quiet, and sometimes well-mannered, older person content enough to not have thoughts or feelings outside the realm of knowledge of those who merely live by illusions specific to themselves while enjoying every benefit cash conveys.

Where do you go after this? Cat food hors d’oeuvres?

Meow, motherfuckers.

©Dean Baker

 

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©Dean Baker

Sweetness – by Stephen Dun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just when it has seemed I couldn’t bear
one more friend
waking with a tumor, one more maniac

with a perfect reason, often a sweetness
has come
and changed nothing in the world

except the way I stumbled through it,
for a while lost
in the ignorance of loving

someone or something, the world shrunk
to mouth-size,
hand-size, and never seeming small.

I acknowledge there is no sweetness
that doesn’t leave a stain,
no sweetness that’s ever sufficiently sweet ….

Tonight a friend called to say his lover
was killed in a car
he was driving. His voice was low

and guttural, he repeated what he needed
to repeat, and I repeated
the one or two words we have for such grief

until we were speaking only in tones.
Often a sweetness comes
as if on loan, stays just long enough

to make sense of what it means to be alive,
then returns to its dark
source. As for me, I don’t care

where it’s been, or what bitter road
it’s traveled
to come so far, to taste so good.
© 1989 by Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn, “Sweetness” from New and Selected Poems 1974-1994. Copyright © 1989 by Stephen Dunn.

A truly great poet – with  any number of fine books to choose from.

©DeanJBaker

 

Fishnet by Robert Lowell

 

 

 

 

Any clear thing that blinds us with surprise,
your wandering silences and bright trouvailles,
dolphin let loose to catch the flashing fish. . . .
saying too little, then too much.
Poets die adolescents, their beat embalms them,
The archetypal voices sing offkey;
the old actor cannot read his friends,
and nevertheless he reads himself aloud,
genius hums the auditorium dead.
The line must terminate.
Yet my heart rises, I know I’ve gladdened a lifetime
knotting, undoing a fishnet of tarred rope;
the net will hang on the wall when the fish are eaten,
nailed like illegible bronze on the futureless future.

©Robert Lowell

-excerpt from The Dolphin

Just read the first two lines and know that is not only about poetry but also about how
poetry in the world is recognizable, and the contrary is true: what isn’t poetry is known as well.

The brilliant use of metaphor matched with the physical aligning into discovery: how important poetry is when with only a few lines
endless senses of intellect, art, and personal renewal can be seen and pursued in a manner that the world itself would never allow, and thus must be and remain an object of delight and study,
because in that moment of poetry where the lines resound the reader is forever altered.

For those interested in literary trivia, ‘Dolphin’ is the nickname by which Lowell would often refer to his wife.

Fitting then that I came across this volume and others I relate to it such as For Lizzie And Harriet,   Day By Day and History among others of Lowell’s great works.

©Dean J. Baker

https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/links-to-my-books-in-print//

The mothership: http://deanjbaker.wordpress.com

The Canadian Authors Meet by F. R. Scott

frscott1

 

 

 

 

Expansive puppets percolate self-unction
Beneath a portrait of the Prince of Wales.
Miss Crotchet’s muse has somehow failed to function,
Yet she’s a poetess. Beaming, she sails

From group to chattering group, with such a dear
Victorian saintliness, as is her fashion,
Greeting the other unknowns with a cheer—
Virgins of sixty who still write of passion.

The air is heavy with Canadian topics,
And Carman, Lampman, Roberts, Campbell, Scott,
Are measured for their faith and philanthropics,
Their zeal for God and King, their earnest thought.

The cakes are sweet, but sweeter is the feeling
That one is mixing with the literati;
It warms the old, and melts the most congealing.
Really, it is a most delightful party.

Shall we go round the mulberry bush, or shall
We gather at the river, or shall we
Appoint a Poet Laureate this fall,
Or shall we have another cup of tea?

O Canada, O Canada, O can
A day go by without new authors springing
To paint the native maple, and to plan
More ways to set the selfsame welkin ringing?

©F.R.Scott

Frank Scott has many fine poems, but this one I think applies not only to Canadian authors…

©Dean J. Baker

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Ithaca by C.P.Cavafy

cpcavafy1

 

 

 

 

As you set out for Ithaca
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what Ithacas mean.

 

©C.P.Cavafy

 

©Dean Baker

https://writingsofdeanbaker.wordpress.com/

C. P. Cavafy, “The City” from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Translation Copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Reproduced with permission of Princeton University Press.

***NOTE – I used Keeley and Sherrard’s translation for this poem. I believe the book with an intro by W.H. Auden and the translation by Rae Dalven to be the absolute best:

http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Poems-Cavafy-Expanded/dp/0156198207/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

The Truth In Certain Poetry – Yehuda Amichai, A.M.Klein, Gwen MacEwen, Joe Rosenblatt, Irving Layton,….

DarkEarth

There is a certain elegiac clarity and a dignity of purpose in certain poems, and poets possessed of a forthright manner and a lack of the contrived innuendoes that construct an approach to poetry or a facsimile of a poem.

C.P.Cavafy, Yeats, George Herbert, John Donne. A lot of the work of Gwendolyn MacEwen, and in the Greek writers she tended to enthuse over, for instance Yannis Ritsos, whom I met at her apartment one time. Also, a contemporary of hers, Irving Layton, much admired himself by Allen Ginsberg, William Carlos Williams, and an endless procession of very unique writers, not the least of which was Leonard Cohen who called LaytonCanada’s greatest poet”(and definitely not only because he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981).
That elegiac quality exists in Raymond Souster, F.R. Scott, John Newlove.
Louise Bogan’s The Blue Estuaries. Almost anything by Mark Strand.
George Seferis‘ work certainly.

The occasion for saying this is I’ve been re-reading Yehuda Amichai, and reading through the works of C.K. Williams. Not that these stand alone, but they stand singularly. I’d say I first encountered such qualities in the works of A.M. Klein. Another true, but rarely acknowledged master.
And you can find these qualities in certain poems, observations of Joe Rosenblatt.

The stillness encountered, the sense of profundity, the ‘whack’ that C.K. Williams speaks of in his poem of the same title: that sudden, yet familiar clarity that sweeps clean and leaves you more of your true self than you’d ever been up to that point.
Even the ringing of a certain bell, as at the beginning of ‘Starting Over’ by John Lennon.

Every writer, poet, songwriter, recognizes it when it occurs. But the scarce rarity of it inhabiting simple forthright lines with a certain regularity is the prize.

The work may seem oddly non-poetic when first encountered, or alternatively, exactly what you might expect. Preceded by distant rhythms and certain algebraic formulations of words, but it always come to that moment, this time, these words.

That is poetry: music, and song integrated with the silences and rhythms necessary to establish a poem in the world that exists like a very unique, and distinct world. Not separate, but so far inclusive the boundaries are not only contained but delineated without any injury to the work.

Discovering such as these, you can feel without the false discussions of literati, academics, or others useless opinions, the absolute necessity for poetry.

Making mention in the introduction to Poems, by Yehuda Amichai, is Michael Hamburger who very graciously himself lived the words he’d put to paper, in his translations as well, whether discussing Isaac Singer (present at the time), Irving Layton (for whom I’d said I’d get Singer’s autograph), Margaret Atwood, or the latest reader at a few literary festivals we talked about.

To read these poems, therefore, is to both be reminded of things one has tended to forget and to discover things that one has never known.” – Michael Hamburger
And lest it be taken that knowing, in regards to literature, scripture, history and the world are distant and apart from a poet’s life, know that Yehuda Amichai served in two wars, and while experienced in the truest sense found no exclusivity in certainties of any faith, or outlook.
You would find a semblance with very distinct differences in the works of Paul Celan.
A true view of being Israeli therefore, as well as a great awareness of European recall while standing firm in the very alive knowledge of the Kings and Prophets of his history in an individualistic manner likely disdained by nationalists and those against anything but a blanket stance on history and contemporaneity.

This makes for a great poet. And great are the poets also mentioned here whose work is a statement against any assumptions by virtue of its uniqueness and craft.

©Dean J. Baker

**note: click on the names for links to their work

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#poetry #literature #MarkStrand #HenryMiller #AllenGinsberg, etc. Poetry & How It Gets That Way

Poetry has been an essential art in history and is in danger of being trivialized into extinction.
Several seminal events in recent literary history are detailed in illustrating how poetry is not merely an adjunct to history and culture but can elucidate and influence those same events and deeds.

 

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