Kids probably don’t know what they’re saying,
and we, we’re one shy of all the stepchildren
it took to get here. In odder moments we’d contemplate
the swathe of water leading to the horizon
and pretend it was the grass had come full circle,
even to this sidewalk of cream and ocher brick. Those
who trespass against us slipped into rephotographed woods,
verifiable, at least for the time being.
He who stumbles at the brink of some great discovery,
perplexed, will endorse for many years
the fox and its entourage, part of some map
of life, he thinks. Emerging
from the shadow of his later career, he slides
into the contiguous states of America, all cherry trees
and floral tributes. It was right to behave as we have done,
he asserts, sending the children on their way
to school, past the graveyard. Evening’s loftiest seminars
can’t dim the force of that apostasy. So, yes,
others had to precede us, meaning we’re lost in a swamp with coevals
who like us because we like to do things with them.
The forced march makes perfect sense under such conditions.
Let’s celebrate then, let there be some refreshing change
overtaking all we were meant to achieve and didn’t.
On the practical side it looks as though their team lost
and ours failed to languish, absent a compelling reason to do so.
John Ashbery (A Worldly Country)
I love the line, really the phrase. “forced march makes perfect sense.”
Now I’ll provide a counter to Ashbery’s suburban sentiment. My colleague and friend Ken sent me a package full of goods, mostly his poetry and prose serial, House Organ. Although I am not much the poetry guy, and my naive prejudices only elevate Shakespeare, Rumi, and ee cummings, the fact is that I discovered a copy of Vincent Ferrini’s last collection, The Pleroma, had been sent in the package. I only discovered it when I was about to toss the mailer it was hiding in. ‘Wait, there’s something else!’
As it happened, Bucky had given me Ferrini’s Know Fish decades ago. I devoured it because about all I know of Ferrini is that experiencing his poetry is–simply–to be beguiled.
My favorite from Know Fish:
Da words n thought
r da absurd
preamble of the turd
is like dis undergroun
who spies on all
n flusha ideas down
is a mantra
clockt n evyting
n ring a ling!
eacha passa test
by hell bent
who butt da bent
is da Flog da lurch
n evey gentry
who like dis zpecshal
wa care fa you entry
Well, apologies to Ashbery, but sum ting is seeing the forced march.
from The Pleroma
black silk skin
for all dimensions
I can travel with the current
poverty of the Spirit
is the mortal
Some march, others travel. Reminded of Shams of Tabriz, “Follow the perfume, not the tracks.”
review by Ken Warren