Tag Archives: beauty

See Here Now: forensic poetry

“See here,” one poet said, “for beauty’s sake,
I would enslave a thousand listless men,
and though it cause the earth’s deep core to shake,
would carve away the mountains with my pen
that one and all might see as noble truth
a majesty against which swords will fail:
the pure and simple honesty of youth
that conquers all despite seeming so frail.”

“Indeed,” a second poet made reply,
“You might, with that great monumental deed
achieve what heretofore has stayed undone
despite a seeming overwhelming need;
and with a mighty geyser spewing ink
lay waste to man’s vast petty enterprise
that with its many graveyards gives a stink
that leaches into both loved and despised.”

“No matter,” the first poet’s quick retort,
“What form that beauty takes, this much is known:
the fool who finds the chasing merely sport
will find at length, no beauty of their own.
And furthermore, despite the world’s distain,
true love may still play conqueror at last:
what else, pray tell, could lure a world in pain
to soldier on after the die is cast?”

“A vanity,” the other bard rejoins,
“the hope that without fact is false belief,
a wish that mankind’s reason would purloin,
and leave them no real succor or relief.
See here: what good is thinking something so,
if absent evidence, none prove it true?
Youth grows to age, and those who think they know
turn into drooling fools like me and you.”

“But poetry,” the first said in return,
“Is no mere fancy pushed out on the breath;
and though its fire may scald, rather than burn,
its soothing balm may also ward off death.
What harm in that? The world is hard enough
without depriving mankind of some salve
to bind its wounds and smooth away the rough,
the bitter dregs it is our lot to have.”

“Besides, everyone knows the world is pain;
we need no more reminding, everyday,
that loss is the finale of each gain
despite the heavy price there is to pay.
What good is sad complaining about fate,
or moaning on the future’s downward path?
Enjoy the moment, ’til it is too late.
While you still can, find some reason to laugh.”

20 MAR 2017

Arts and Crafts

If you want to make your process seem “magical” or “other-directed” describe it as art, right? The “Art” of the Deal, a bullshit “artist”, The Art of War, The Art of Living. But that implies that “art” (a mystical convergence of talent and inspiration) is somehow separate from “craft” (a common integration of technique and practice), and is in fact not really a matter of technique and practice, that it is elevated above everyday workmanship to a semi-Divine state of production.

I call bullshit.

As an artist myself – a poet and musician, principally – I COULD say that what I can do and produce is NOT the direct product of endless repetitious hours of practice, physical endurance enforcing physical memory, and learning how to interpret the work of artists in a different way from the way that “non-artists” do (in my case, listening for different specific things in a musical performance or composition that correspond to techniques and practices I have studied and personally used). But no matter how I present it, it is still more science than magic. As far as I’m concerned, art IS a craft; and by that same token, if we consider Buckminster Fuller’s assertion that while he didn’t consider the beauty of a thing while it was being built or constructed, if it was not beautiful when it was completed, he knew it was wrong, any MASTERY of a craft is in fact art.

We consider the “arts” as “arty” as a way to imagine that we lack something necessary to likewise produce beautiful or eternal art, music, dance, sculpture, architecture – or to negotiate the perfect deal, turn the greatest profit, know which battles are key to winning a war, most effectively (and seemingly effortlessly) complete the most complex and convoluted projects on time, in scope and under budget. But the truth is what we lack, with the exception of perhaps imagination, is the propensity and willingness for hard work. Because ask any dancer: you must be willing to sacrifice a LOT of physical comfort to become a prima ballerina. You have to put in extra hours, behind the scenes, to make “art” seem effortless. Otherwise, what you portray is an “artless” incomplete mastery of craft.

Some would be offended by suggesting there is an “art” of medicine, of law, as opposed to a solid, craftsman-like “practice”. Because although practice IS a critical component of any artist’s training and maintenance, we imply a different kind of “practice” when we practice medicine or law. Or do we? Of course, calling these “arts” makes them seem too arbitrary, too subjective – because as the saying goes, we may not know what good art is, but “we know it when we see it”. And we know medicine, or the law? Again, I call bullshit.

An artist, then, must be considered among other things, a Master Craftsman; in the same way, a Master Craftsman is an artist.

What is Beauty: cancione

So what is beauty, really?
As a requisite to love
it seems far too subjective,
just some desire’s beguiling
design to snare a victim.

So what is beauty, really?
A figment caught by the eye
(or nature-made to seem thus)
to overwhelm reason’s care,
let loose the reins and run wild?

So what is beauty, really?
One sad half discovers whole,
making the universe sing
a melody so haunting
its croaking voice sounds lilting.

So what is beauty, really?
The eye knows only deceit;
the ear, a fading echo;
the mind, pale comparison;
the heart, hopeful delusion.

So what is beauty, really?
A single moment’s passing,
that folds future and present
up into both shroud and veil
for wedding, and funeral.

So what is beauty, really?
The weak, finite majesty
of illusion stitched in time,
the knowing of unknowing
that is a thing in itself.

27 JAN 2017

Let the great bells resound

The endless poise of would-be suitors
waiting in the wings
who watch in silence for some signal
that Beauty’s watchman brings

The darkened tower above the chasm
where maidservants kneel
in service to some kind of madness
Beauty seems to feel

The empty halls of empty armor
memories of campaigns
that sought to prove the end of fighting;
the hallowed hills refrain:

There is no use in wishful thinking;
time is much better spent
constructing moats of spider’s webs
or building tissue tents.

The tuneless song of untrained cantors
humming in the halls
who write their programs for recital
on the crumbling walls

The lamplight study of the martyr,
dagger to his breast,
who writes in tears his testament
while visions manifest

The quiet hush of the new morning
creeping from the moor
that serves as a forged invitation,
turned back at the door

There is no point in dialogue
when ears are closed to sound;
let loose the time saved for such things,
let the great bells resound

1 JUN 2005

Whence the morning comes

All brave words pale to whimpered, mewling sighs;
great structures crumble to their timber’s dust;
aged soldiers’ shouts turn into babies’ cries,
their heroism’s bread gnawed to the crust.
Proud governments dissemble into gangs;
philosophers’ grand speeches become babbles;
elaborate costumes rot where they hang;
the wise assembly reverts to mere rabble.

And what event precipitates this fall,
what monumental shift in time and space
wreaks havoc on the known, destroying all
to leave in Beauty’s stead a gruesome face —
some wild disruption in the cosmic scheming
that causes misalignment of the spheres?
a moment where the gods cease from their dreaming
and we are left alone when the mist clears?

What then? If our own actions make the future,
with no unseen, omnipotent control,
no divine surgeon to tie off the sutures
and seal the wounds we’ve rendered on the whole;
if we alone, frail humankind, have wandered
so far beyond our role, through pride and greed,
that any promise due us we have squandered
and have no promised land, no guarantee?

What good religions, if they do not teach us
to doubt our own ability to reign
or don’t allow the universe to reach us,
instead instructing to ignore our pain?
All brave words are for naught, if in our bravery
we fail to speak for those whose tongues are dumb;
should our great light cast the whole world in shadow,
what good is knowing whence the morning comes?

23 May 2005

On Beauty

Beauty is youth’s currency;
and those who have it spend
without a care for what may come,
as if it will not end.

The doors of hearts and shops alike
are open to its wants,
and offer endless credit
to the wealthy debutante.

Down every street, the merchants wait
with sweets and tempting fare
and act as if they’ll do the same
once no more money’s there.

But Beauty is a fickle coin,
like manna on the lawn
it ages quickly or will rot;
one morning, it is gone.

How fast the world reveals its claws,
and deadbolts fast its doors;
then woe to those whose meager stash
is gone, leaving them poor.

And how we mock the misers who
would hoard up Beauty’s gold,
and watch the world reborn each day
while they grow weak and old.

Spend fast, you children, while you can,
but don’t just buy, invest;
for once your purse is empty,
you’ll be just like all the rest:

Who scramble to regain what you
have callous, spent so free,
and find all they have left to show
is faded memory.

05 MAY 2005

The Thread That Holds

The thread that fasts the edges of the fabric
to link the warp and woof which forms our life
is tenuous, at best – so thin and fragile.
This tapestry we take so much for granted,
whose boundaries extend to memory’s end,
is but a million of these strands and slivers.

That it remains a whole is quite surprising,
considering how little work it takes
to cause a snag, or worry loose a seam.
The pattern fades, and shows its age in places
where time and stress have worn through either side;
through these holes often come epiphanies:

it’s where the surface thins and turns transparent,
that life beyond our isolated realm
makes faint connection to our sense of known.
In those quite rare and brief enlightened moments,
true balance becomes difficult to find;
despite the danger, we must seek the edge

and look to the abyss that lies beyond,
to find within ourselves the fabric’s mending,
or pulling that loose thread, unravel all.
Because in truth, we are just as connected
(despite the separate spools from which we start)
as those fine strands of nothing in themselves;

and can together form a thing of beauty
beyond the ken of isolated minds.
If just an inch is lost, we are no more.

24 FEB 2005