MD Kerr

Day 28

A duplex poem

Handwritten poem

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flourish

Some things canít take the brisk nails of words.
You canít just hammer a bird to a book.

Sometimes you really have a bird, book, hammer
but you feel you ought to be evasive.

You start to believe in being evasive
even about the most ordinary things.

Even about the most ordinary things,
you throw non-sequiturs and arch line-breaks.

Then you throw non-sequiturs and arch line-breaks
away. You say, bluntly, the bird flew

away. You say, bluntly the bird flew
into my book and I cried. Please understand.

Into my book, I cried. Please understand,
some things canít take the brisk nails of words.

Thanks to napowrimo.net for the prompt to write a poem about poems. That's something I've explored a lot before, in sonnets about the sonnet form, a haiku that instructs the haiku form, and even this NaPoWriMo in resisting writing poetry. I have a difficult relationship with contemporary poetry's insistence that ascribing meaning, or any kind of conclusion, is some kind of fault. (I think this may be changing but it's still very dominant.) Being endlessly coy, evasive, and metaphorical about what could be expressed perfectly clearly drives me batty, but poetry's capacity to express the numinous things, or even the secret things, is part of its wonder. I could perhaps express all that more clearly, too, but I have a very literal fever, so absenting my lengthy essay / slim body of verse on the subject, this will have to do you for now!

That said, the narrator of The Ships of Oxford has less hesitant thoughts on the subject:

That capacious coatís pockets used to hold the purses he lifted, and now it holds scraps of paper and penwipes and nubs of pencils, and if you emptied them all out and lined up the phrases, why, it would just read like that poetry they make so much of at the university, the kind with no rhyme and no rhythm, no song to it at all, and no fancy thoughts in it except what you put there yourself, which if you ask me is a dereliction of duty on the part of the poet, but them at the uni seem to admire it and thereís no accounting for taste, even bad taste. De gustibus non est disputandum, they say, except they disputandum it all the time and the general thrust of their disputes is that what they think is good, is good, and if you donít like it then you just donít know enough and therefore your opinion is not fit to be taken into account. And I have to say, I admire such a fine twist of argument as what boils down to ďif you disagree with me, you are wrongĒ but looks so fancy and dressed-up as to be half-convincing. Only half, mind, I can see through it right enough.

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