Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The World Downriver

The world is somewhat broader than the word
suggests—the tiny globes slotted for banks
or pencil sharpeners, the sort of news
which offers brief and intimate reviews
of life in Akron. Give a world of thanks
for not obtruding Kenya on our notice.
And which of you sophisticates has heard
the prayer that Kundar packaged on a lotus
and floated down the river for his dad,
so lately deceased? The world is somewhat bigger
than what can be ignited by a trigger
in mating season. Even with the bad
strangers excluded, still sit you and I,
a world, we say, grown old, grown dark, gone by.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A rare post about economics

The main thing I've learned from this depression is how dependent our economy is on people buying things they don't really need. The automobile industry is the perfect example. The carmakers are going under, and this is a catastrophe. Tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs, billions of dollars will disappear from the economy, and this is all a very bad thing. (Really. No tongue in cheek. Who wants to see their friends, neighbors, and countrymen lose their jobs?) But no one is saying that people are going to have to do without cars. As far as I can tell, almost everyone who wants a car already has a car or two, cars which are perfectly serviceable or which can easily be made so. The car industry is in dire straits because people aren't buying cars to replace cars which don't really need to be replaced. So, we are told, we have to fix this.

On the other hand, the pundits say, our global ecology is in imminent danger of collapse because we are such wasteful, profligate stewards of our planet. We must not flush our toilets every time; we need to recycle the aluminum foil in which we grilled our streaks (which we shouldn't be grilling) (or eating). But we need to buy cars (and stereos and computers and televisions and houses) we don't actually require, because the global economy will disintegrate if we don't. Leaving aside the minor improvements in efficiency made in each automotive model year, what could be more wasteful of resources than buying a car you don't need?

In my heart I believe that nothing could improve this situation but a population 1/3-1/2 as numerous as it is now; but the means of reaching that end are too awful to contemplate.

So all we can do is to buy as many cars as possible made entirely of recycled aluminum foil.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I've Placed Cherubim

This, from These Denver Odes, appeared in Candelabrum.

I've placed cherubim in the garden,
armed of course to repel sin. My guests
see them, sigh, and say, "Oh, angels. Cute."
Maybe this garden isn't Eden,
and I am locked inside, not sin exiled.
The cherubim are defaced by rain,

as I by impure escapades,
most of which were someone else's--
Munchausen's amorous dotage.
I smile at the girl I slept with.
Since she knows nothing about it,
she thinks me harmless and makes change.

At sunset, when the wind gains
and we shrink, we remember.
We do that very well now,
half-cocked and stiff where we stand,
true lies an analgesic
in the angels' sightless eyes.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

And they're all divided into 3 parts

A reader reports that when he types "rhe poems" into his search engine, the first half-dozen websites refer to gallstones and how to be rid of them. "Why?" he asks, but answer came there none.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Civilization and its contents

I've been reading Yeats lately. Despite all the time (and prose) he devoted to his "ideas," it's hard to imagine a great poet with less to say. And this isn't because he relied on inspiration: notwithstanding his loony notions of automatic writing, this is the guy who claimed to write his poems out in prose, then versify them. If that's so, I wonder what prose paragraph this started with--

Who will go drive with Fergus now,
And pierce the deep wood's woven shade,
And dance upon the level shore?
Young man, lift up your russet brow,
And lift your tender eyelids, maid,
And brood on hopes and fear no more.

And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love's bitter mystery;
For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
And rules the shadows of the wood,
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all dishevelled wandering stars.

Lift your tender eyelids, maid, my Aunt Fanny. I believe the classically Woosterian response to this is, "Pish. Oh, and tosh, too."

And yet. And yet. Was Yeats a great poet? You betcha. I'd sigh with contentment if I could have written those last 4 lines, and I have no idea what they mean. It's a very mysterious thing, Great Poetdom.