Poetic Entanglements

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I. Atoms and words combine themselves into complex structures: molecules and sentences, poems and beings. These pieces hold a limited amount of meaning alone, but it is only through the interconnected relationships of these base elements that they can ever become alive. To break apart these structures is to kneel before a pile of discrete pieces of information. A cell is defined by its purpose for the body as a whole, a word by the body of work. There is value in the syntax, the order, the configuration. Rearrange the elements and the whole thing may fall apart.

II. Language evolves. As time goes on, a combination of sounds mutates into something that doesn’t resemble itself anymore. Every time a sequence is copied, it brings the threat (or blessing) of alteration. Without this swerve, every product created by nature or poet would be a mere copy of the original.

III. A good poem already exists. The writer can imitate it, ensuring that she never rises above her predecessors and lives her life a parrot. She can rebel against it, at the risk of estranging her readers and defining her work by spite. Or she can take that work and distort it slightly, expand the boundaries to her advantage, test the limits without going too far off the edge. Nature works the same way; she is a fine poet.

IV. Poems adapt to the fitness of their environment. As language evolves, the values of art must shift as well, else they will become extinct due to the meager supply of fitting words. The ideal poetic line is a genome, manipulated by entropy until an infinite series of variables miraculously synchronize with the environment, and it thrives. It’s hard to watch old words die. They don’t represent the language of the listeners anymore, but they preserve the language of the writers. Leave them behind when history turns its page. They will be fine.

V. Poetry is a ring species. Each consecutive generation mimics its predecessor enough to be considered the same genus, and yet, generation twelve is a completely different creature than generation one. When do the definitions change? Where do the boundaries end?  It is tempting to categorize time into eras. A segment of time is defined by one concept, and then in one single strike of the clock it is defined by another. The division of history into Renaissance and Shakespearean and Romantic erases the links in between that hold them together. Change is a gradual process. The process isn’t over yet. Every individual moment is an era, defined by itself.

VI. Think about the music of the spheres. The universal symphony is never over; as one tune ends, an elided cadence begins a new melody, recombining the same notes into an impossible number of variations. The last line of one poem is the opening to another. As long as art continues, it can’t really fail; even a poor piece of writing or a mislaid tune may serve as inspiration for the next creator. The only mistake is to stop creating. Everything finds its natural place in the end.

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Sonnet for Canned Cranberry Sauce

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Since bread, nor corn, nor beans, nor grand turkey
But puissant cranberry o’er-sways their taste,
Thy ridges, uniform in majesty,
Might render the word “parallel” disgraced.
A proud and noble sauce that shall stand firm,
Corn syrup and conviction hold it well;
A texture for which language has no term,
A little less than jelly, more than gel.
O! How thy armor of aluminum
Protects thee from the cran-less world outside,
Where by the can-opener’s plaintive hum
Thou may be freed, and thou may free thy pride.
No cylinder has more potential than
The cranberry can be within the can.

The Rose

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(A vague translation based on “Mon Amie la Rose,” a French poem by Cécile Caulier and Jacques Lacombe)

“We’re nothing, I suppose,”

Hypothesized the rose

To the passing garden-bird

“At dawn I was born new

I was baptized by the dew

And blessed from above

Happy and in love

At night I closed the page

That was written in the stars

By sunrise I had aged

I once was beautiful

You called me beautiful

I blossomed by your word.”

“We’re nothing, I suppose,”

Hypothesized the rose

To the passing garden-bird

“I saw God who made me

Made me bow on bended knee

I took the fall from grace

Abandoned the embrace

My heart was stripped away

With one foot in the grave

Won’t matter either way

You loved me in my youth

I thought that love was truth

Perhaps that’s what I heard.”

We’re nothing, I suppose;

This morning was the rose

Found wilted by the bird.

The moon in mourning prayed

As her withered body laid

Then I saw, like a dream

A scintillating gleam

Her soul danced like a child

Beyond all mortal planes

And turned to me and smiled

I listened for her call,

Not nothing, after all;

It wouldn’t be absurd.

“We’re nothing, I suppose,”

Hypothesized the rose,

As she spoke her final word.

Finals Week Soliloquy

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We considered our mission operations plan

To eliminate interference from the bright daytime sky and the ground beneath our feet

Taking advantage of our grasp on object permanence

We’d run the gamut of childhood tropes

Across the hedonic treadmill.

 

La frontière entre poésie et musique etait permeable, et quand on la traversait

On sacrifiait le rythme

Dans l’euphorie de l’après-guerre.

At different timescales we found that

Human psychology is a photoshop filter that colors the picture with predisposed thoughts and erases objectivity from view.

A friend is everybody,

Or a powerful enemy who

Parachutes gently down to the surface

On one-size-fits-all morality.

 

Finally

I found the corporeal spirit, the bodily non-body

A predicate without a subject

With properties of Galilean satellites

Like an electron around an intangible nucleus:

An object with like sensible qualities to a marzipan duckling.

 

My train of thought derailed into the stream of consciousness

Except for

A few paperclips at orbital velocity

And an intolerance for meaninglessness.

 

Il y avait le squelette d’une chat entre plafond et plancher

Et une branche plus specifique de chanson réaliste.

A symbiotic coexistent relationship between word and definition was

The exact consistency of crème brûlée.

A thousand plagues on empirical science

Farmed out to a fiction factory

To be harvested by

Unicorns with unusually long necks.

Les questions semblent plus folle, moins philosophique

But we were consumed by the thought that

No one can stop the title of “supremely perfect” from being bestowed upon a taco.

 

Heroes never laugh in excess

Mais la nouvelle idole, c’est l’anti-idole.

A perpetual analemma,

A circuit rather than a destination.

 

Unable to explain in words exactly how language limits our thoughts,

I shouted

“I am the venti latte extremist—

Ma vie est plombée par des acteurs qui en rajoutent dans le chromo, la guimauve, l’expressionisme larmoyent et qui me disent

Des choses importantes… ou des choses pas importantes.”

 

Everyone who took even a sip of the chocolate milk lost the ability to love.

 

(This poem was written by taking lines out of my notes and stitching them into a semi-cohesive whole. It’s reflective of the state of my mind right now.)

don’t seduce me with shakespeare

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To love or not to love?

That is the question.

Or so ‘twould seem to the untrained eye

that sees the kaleidoscopic earth

in muted greys and defeathered blues.

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day-

No thou shalt not

For if I held in me the evasive scintillations that constitute a summer

now would be the winter of our discontent.

 

Many times have I yearned to lie ‘mongst the grass

drinking the sunlight

and eating the earth

and blossoming all the same

For disregarding is such sweet sorrow,

 

A prophecy once told me

Something vivid this way comes

and still no colors compared to those which I created myself.

 

This above all-

to thy lone self be true

The selfsame words that contaminate your credence

are those that cut off the heads of stars from their celestial bodies.

I seek the comfort of those with no such tongues.

Th’ bitterness of a plant lies in the root 

And its heart is not so fragile.

 

There’s rue for you, and for me too,

and devil’s due, the final screw in the machinations of my existence.

The quest is silence.