Sunday, November 7, 2010

TEMPTING WISE MEN

There was a crash this evening on the other side of the apartment. Not the damn squirrel foraging around again. A high-up shelf of POETRY Magazines had crashed to the floor. As I was picking them up to replace tomorrow in the daylight, I thought perhaps this might be a random signal to look through issues that had been long closed. I opened to this one, and it seemed to speak, here and there, to some of the other musings going on with the writing. So here it goes. Thanks, John Canaday. Let me know if I am infringing on your copyright.

SHEIKH MAJNOON

would never pause to worry as I do
about mixed metaphors. He contradicts
himself on principle. "Words are a curse.
They tempt wise men to think their thinking's thoughts.
Even a rock knows better." Then, to prove
his point, perhaps, or punctuate his lapse
from silence, he kicks a good-sized stone.
It doesn't budge. His expletives resound
like Dr. Johnson's "Thus!" The shiekh loves stuff
and nonsense. Nothing less. He'd grunt and hope
about like this without a second thought,
but generally it never comes to that.
His motto might be, "No ideas, just things."
among which he would count these words the way
Ben Sikran holds a gold piece on his tongue.
So much for hospitality, one thinks:
his tent no doubt is threadbare and his tea
is thin. He'd dress in rags, like Lear's Poor Tom,
except like us, he's no one else's fool.
Indeed, his poverty is ours, or ought to be, of mind
and body both. Yes, we should have such luck.
To chatter like rocks through broken teeth,
to hesitate like rain before it falls,
to vibrate like the purple air at dusk,
each needs a barrenness I haven't got.
And yet, I ooh and aah, hoping to form
a word that sounds an echo of the sheikh's
palatial palate. or I cup my hands
as if it might be possible to hold
his emptiness, and molecules of air
dance like a host of angels on my palm.

John Canaday, there, ladies and gentlemen. This was published in Poetry, November 2001. I like it better for having typed it out.

"to hesitate like rain before it falls..."

4 comments:

  1. Personally, my fav is the last line -- "molecules of air dance like a host of angels on my palm" -- we should all be so lucky.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah, to be a rock...especially in a negotiation.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This reminds of a "new" Stew song. It was written after and about the Passing Strange Process. Just writers writing about writing I guess is the connection for me. He says, "Plays are real if you pretend, you are tuned until the end...so damn smart and they mystify. Songs are dumb but they don't lie... A stupid little song gonna make you break down and cry....Melodies borrowed and the words are trite but sweet Sammy Becket cant get me through this night. I need a stupid song to pull me through..etc.."
    K.I.S.S.

    ReplyDelete