Thursday, January 31, 2008

An Emerging Theory

I am troubled by the fact that all art is artifice, no matter how hard we try to "keep it real." The beginning of any artistic endeavor soon evolves or devolves into artifice. The artifice arises because of the limitation of our perception, our natural desire to bring order to chaos, the inherent structure of the narrative, and the level of our consciousness. In that regard, the greatest artifice is found at each end of the spectrum of human consciousness. The primitive mind desires magic, whereas the refined consciousness seeks the symbol, the numinous, the archetype. Ironically, the quotidian mind is content to reside in the fact, the so-called real, which is an artifice of culture. As a result of this battle with artifice, which is inevitable, I find myself letting go of the real and moving more to the fantastic. In this movement I find solace in the fiction of Paul Auster, Peter Ackroyd, John Crowley, and Franz Kafka and the poetry of Paul Celan, Bill Knott, Gunter Grass, and Charles Simic.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Snail Silence

The order within him
was so black
it absorbed the sun’s rays.
Bright auras, like moths,
fluttered toward this darkness
until he could no longer
stand the weight
of their anxious
In despair,
he cried out to the snail
that slid past on silver thread:
“Why do they press against me so?
What have I done to deserve
such dreadful desire?”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Myth of the Snail

Each day it journeys
from the rose leaf
to the yard's loam
Without the help of any god,
it carries a shell
that grows evenly
through the years,
marking the limits
of its world.
Its boundary of being
measures the stretch of silver
between the rose leaf
and the grass blade.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Life on the Under Leaf

They emerge from darkness
crawling across the cement
on the way to the rose garden.
They find their way to the under leaf,
where they sleep through the day
to appear at dusk, to work
their way back to the yard
and the trees. Not once
do they repeat their mathematical
purpose nor speak of their twin
that fades into dark history,
nor do they lecture
on verticality
or the ultimate fate
that awaits the horizon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Vertical until Horizontal

to Ferdinand Hodler

Anxiety rises like the tide,
overflows its banks,
covers the causeway,
and drowns the rose field.
He grabs his board
and rides the waves,
hanging ten, screaming
all the way to the western shore
where bait shops and trailer parks
sit nestled in contentment.
He runs the board ashore
and stands barefoot
in the white sand,
wiggling his toes.
Two pelicans fly to Cuba.
He studies the horizon,
ready to pit his verticality
against its horizonality
until it delivers
him in the end.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Günter’s Secret

With his left hand
stained yellow
from Schwarzer Krauser,
he pounded stone
and smoothed wet clay
into starving nudes
and granite head stones.
This sinister activity,
he later wrote, emerged
from his singular German virtue:
hard work, everyday, to the end.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Snail's Tale

A snail on a mirror,
smuggled onto a Russian truck,
one snowy night passes
through the American lines.
That morning it had been a Communist;
by nightfall, it crawled from the polished glass
onto a silk table cloth in Salzburg,
speaking German and telling a strange tale.
It said, “there are two snails:
the one that speaks here to you
and the other, my twin, that lives
on the other side of the projection.
In that alternate world of thrown light,
my double slithers on slime
along a razor’s edge of time
that flows in reverse toward Romania,
where snow buries frigid bodies
crumpled on the side of a ditch,
their eyes perfect calcified shells.”

Günter and Paul in Clichy

A break in the gray skies over the gray stones of Montmartre illuminates Sacre Coeur, which shines like a beacon above the snail shaped map of Paris.

Two men walking on the Rue Lepic look up at the beacon. The short, stout one, with a massive black mustache, makes the sign of the cross, while the tall, handsome one, pulls deeply on his cigarette, a Gauloise. They continue down the street, searching for a clean well lit café where they can share an espresso, a cigarette, and a chat about modern German poetry.

They stop in front of a café that the short stout man sniffs. He enters and walks about smelling the kitchen door, the entrance to the toilette, and the bar. He looks under the tables and runs a fat finger along the edge of the window sill. He grunts his acceptance and takes a booth near the window.

A waiter with a vulpine face, arrives with a huff, and frowns when he hears the German accented French of the stout one. He turns to the other who speaks perfect French, showing his disdain for the boche. The stout one ignores the man’s rudeness; he has accepted the French’s hatred of the Germans. Instead, he pulls a small moleskin sketchbook from his pocket of his tweed jacket and a pelican pen and quickly sketches the man’s fox like face with a few clear lines.

The other, the handsome one, extracts a thick wad of folded papers from the inside pocket of his jacket and places them on the table. They order espressos and a carafe of water and place their cigarettes on the table. The stout one pushes his drawing aside and reaches into his left pocket and produces another moleskin notebook. This one is lined and full of scribbles.

The waiter places the coffees in front of them with a bill, which they both ignore. They intend to order another later. The handsome one with the sad dark eyes begins to read in German, while the stout one watches a woman bend over in the doorway of shop across the way to pour some milk into a saucer for a sick kitten mewing on the sidewalk.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Snail's Pace

The snail steps on command
and slides along the razor’s edge.
Its day’s work ends well and small.
The hare celebrates,
as it rests
on its racing laurels,
waiting for the tortoise
to bisect
the line of slime
that shines
silver in the sun,
reflecting brown fur
and green shell.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Seeking Celan 1968

The gray stone absorbs
her black lace as silver flakes fall
on the cobblestones near the museum.
Her perfumed thighs
spread by his warm fingers
define the degree
of their digress toward the word,
defined against polished phrases
reflected from Venetian glass.
Its sound like a laural leaf
caught in the fall breeze
soars above a serpentine Seine.
Beginning at La Manche
it arrests itself
beneath the bridge
of his mounting distress.