Two Poets Lament, Part I

for W.B. Yeats

Some silken strains of angst-encrusted verse
or mystic message wrapped in words to woo
designed to part the patron from their purse,
or charm one’s snakes…what can these small things do?

An audience that can be misdirected
by such a simple ruse, where is their strength
and will to fight against being neglected,
their pleasures sought but found beyond arm’s length,

kept quiet in their apathetic lives
with promises of wealth in thirty days
empowered by not thoughts, but things and dreams
of avarice beyond the arts of gods to grant?

What good is such a crowd in praise of art?
Their graces can be bought at no large price
and the default rate on their loans is high,
conditions changed by fickle tides of whim.

And other poets, what use will they serve?
Since Hemingway, the writer’s world is filled
by just observing without much discourse
immersed in life’s most raucous noise and swill

to find escape from the plane of the mind,
absorbing and reporting vibrantly
the commonness in everything you find
without exploring or a need to see

the symbolism in a glass of beer
or archetype in the mad dancing crowd –
a study for some lost cerebral mind,
now deafened, needing life both large and loud.

There is no solidarity among
these artists; they lead strange and lonely lives,
each wrapped inside themselves and their own song,
producing reams of work that won’t survive

beyond even their next insipid phase.
and past their lifetimes? But then, no one cares;
the history of this time lasts just days –
a photograph, and not a flight of stairs.

And patriotic or dissenting lines
(it doesn’t matter much which one you choose)
may strike a chord or seem to redefine
the culture where you’ve chanced to pay your dues,

but really, what are these few sparks
against the bonfire of bombarding news
that daily forces all who live to choose
and blurs the lines between the light and dark?

What source do you imagine could resist
the Siren’s song of culture, breathing low
and whispering false promise of a kiss
to ease a mind engrossed with need to know.

In which new forum do you think your words
against the bread and circus, could succeed,
when books are used to line cages for birds
and seldomly for any other need?

The days for words are dead; they are no more.
Against these odds, you write and think to change
more than the channel, opening the door
to revolution of the soul. Deranged,

that’s what you are to dream of goals like these.
A job, some mindless task, that’s what you lack;
some visions are not blessings, but disease,
whose quest to is to consume and not give back.

06 MAY 2004

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