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Apple In Your Eye


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Apple In Your Eye
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An Apple In Your Eye (Volume I, Number IV)
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May 18, 1973


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An Apple In our Eye Volume I, Number IV "Poetry And Perhaps the most arresting feature of the recent New is Holly Boren's essay, "Poetry and the Abstract, wh1ch undertakes the ambitious pro1ect of proposing a new theory of poetry. The essay suffers from a certain ambiguity, but its greatest flaw, it seems to me, is a misunderstanding of metaphor, which leads to some invalid conclusions. The treatment of the problem is none the less intelligent, but it is misguided. My personal feeling is that the problem of finding meaningful modes of expression falls v. ithin the realm of values rather than within the realm of art, but that issue goes beyond the scope of the present writing. What I propose to do here is simply to offer a critique of the essay, showing where it seems to me to have gone astray. First of all, let us review the principal points of the essay. Poetry, it says, "has always resulted in a kind of naming." Consequently, once the poet has found names for everything, he has outlived himself; and the Romantics have exhausted the usefulness of metaphor as the primary mode of poetic expression, so that a new mode is needed. Now since there is nothing in the nature of poetry which limits it to material fact, it should be possible to introduce the abstract as a new mode of expression. Indeed, the nature of the abstract is such that it can stand within the poem as "a being in its own right, inde'Pendent of any expression through concrete analogy. After all, poetry "does not really require an object to point to, as the object is not exactly the point, and ultimately abstraction is more complex than and equally as emotionally charged as any material object. Abstraction is an essential part of the modem mind, and to reject it would lead to the dehumanization of poetry. Poetry would be limited to primitive utterance, so that it would begin to seem superfluous. Acceptance of the abstract would be one way of avoiding our reaching the point at which we have "nothing to say and no way of saying it. In this new abstract poetry, content and form could become interchangable and the abstract would be concretized through an emphasis on verbs, thus doing away with the need for objects. This account of poetry, however, is not altogether satisfying. To begin with, while it may be ttrue to say that poetry results in a kind of naming, it is erroneous to conclude that such naming is the objective of poetry. The business of poetry is expression, and any naming that occurs is incidental to the process of expression. The essay does not imply that =ming occupies the total ef fort of the poetic enrerprise. Yet if naming is not really the point of poetry, then there .is no reason to speak of the poet as having outlived himself once he has "found names for everything in the Garden. The poet is concerned with expressing himself, and the things most worth expressing are precisely the things which cannot be named or labeled. Anyone who merely looks for names or coins clever epithets is no poet. Furthermore, it is not clear that "the romantic use and abuse of symbol and myth" could in an;. sense exhaust the potential of metaphor. II anything, it is the potentiality of that particular kind of symbol and myth which has been exhausted; and neither of these has any intrinsic relationship to metaphor. Metaphor, after all, is merely a "prin ciple for integrating diverse phenomena and_ perspectives without sacrificing their diversity"; or in other words, it is a method of introducing a new me-aning by "construing the one in terms of the other." (See Dr. Berggren's paper, "ThL Use and Abuse of Metaphor. ") ln essence, metaphor exists to provide a way of talking about the unnamed and the unnamable, so that to discard it as a worn-out ornament would ve to seal off an entire realm d discourse. Next comes the proposal that the abstract be introduced to replace metaphor as the prime mode of poetic expression. Unfortunately, the essay contains no clear explanation of precisely what is meant by "the abstract. Judging THE CONQUEST OF ISLAM for Ross Ackerman Ali was finally disqualified by the extreme nature of his youth, and representatives of value were clean as a hound's tooth. No notes can ever denote by love alone or deceive as the cruel dreams of policemen give fmal wa} to a goat in a manger, qutckened by these three sources: young winter, tight adJectives, and a final message, tommorrow is a final day. -"Sting Ray 33"The Abstract": A --Jill Weinberg In some sense, the introd'.lction of. a new literacy magaline on the 1\lew College campus an explanation. Although have been able for a number of yeaTS to share their undertakings with the rest of the college co'Dmunity, the same opportunity been denied to writers of creative pvse and criticism. It is the d esire of the to ere ate a fo:um in which an interchange of and literary exp:-ession can effected. The editors have been info:rned ";hat Marv Thronebery, whose on page two, is a fo:rner first bao;eman with the New York Mets. We are plea-;ed to note that his energies have been ch3l1Jleled into the sphere of creative writing: mo:'E! in the line of Yeats than of Williams--bien sur. CAROL LEVENSON DAVID L. S\1ITH NORMAN STEIN ROB STll.IMAN MAY 18, 1973 Critique from the context, however, it seems fair to surmise tha t the abstract is envisioned as a mode of expression divorced from the concrete object. Of course, poetry has always been to one degree or another concerned with the abstract, but traditionally it has moved either from the to the abstract or from the abstract to the concrete. That the abstract can stand alone and produce poetry seems unlikely, and the arguments in its favor seem equally unconvmcing. For one thing, it does not follow that sin::e the obJect of poetry is "not the point, poetry needs no objects. Poetry requires objects because the subject is not directly accessible, but can made accessible by showing that it falls in the unnamable space between objects (i.e., the focus lies between the referents of the metaphor. ) For instance, when Pound says There died a myriad And of the best; among them, For an old bitch gone in the teeth, For a botched civilization, he achieves a synaesthetic effect which without metaphor could not exist. The single metaphor implies both an attitude toward the civilization and a number of facts about the civilization: both disgust and reasons for that disgust. There is indeed a richly complex abstraction here, but it can exist as such in this poem only of metaphorical expression. Anther possibility is that the intention is to banish the concrete from poetry altogether-especially consh:lering the description of how verbs could concretize the abstract without resorting to objects. Even this move, however, would not change matters. Certainly it cannot be taken to imply tha t verbs can replace no.J.DS, since verbs simply denote the states of objects and consequently must have obJects, explicit or implicit, to be meaningful. Any attempt in English to use verbs independent of any object would produce gibberish. The suggestion, though, seems to be that poetry should become abstract in the sense that it does not concern itself with physi ca 1 objects. If this is the case, then the essay is not concerned with modes of poetic expresston at all, but is simply a plea for a new kind of poetic subject matter. Even this, however, seems self-contradictory, for the essay itself states that the success of a poet may be measured ':>y the extent to which lte accomplishes the synthe sis between subject and object, self and world, conscious and unconscious. Yet for the poet to use .. in the manner that seems to be suggested --i.e., the ex clusion of physical ob;ects --would support these dichotomies rather than allow a synthesis. Consequently, for a poet to accept this approach would be to make success impossible for himself, by the essay's own definition. As if the case for abstraction in poetry were not precarious enough, we are presented an excerpt from John Ashberv to demonstrate a "sensitive" and "highly conscious" use of the abstract. These lines are neither poetry nor even prose, but rather an elaborate form of gibberish. They represent neither expression nor exposition, but rather an unforgivable butchery of language. Furthermore, it is not at all "obvious" that the poem "Intrusion" embodies the principles which the essay discusses but that is another matter altogether. In conclusion, there is no reason to think that the use fulness of metaphor is exhausted, any more than there could be reason to say that sight has outlived its usefulness. Metaphor, after all, is really jUSt a kind of stereoscopic ;ision. If poetry has begun to "ring suspiciously hollow", it is because it lacks substance, not because it has exhausted its modes of expression. Any failing of poetry is a failing of the poet, not of the medium, for poetry is expression; and if the poet fails to find any meaningful expres; ion, it is because he has not fully realized any meaningful experience. -David L. Smith AN ANTIQUE, FOR MICHEllE AT CHRIST.tvlASTIME Father's c'lair not rock in the dusk the arms callouses tap:--ed with beer cans the oak rubs with clay dust the poxh posts, blistered, gray he stares through them across paTChed stubble --Chris VanDyk


PAGE TWO A Chades Tomlinson, The Way of a Wo:ld, Oxford University Press, London. !9i59. 60 pp. Chades Tomlinson is a poet of the pure image. He a p!"Ofol.tld in the hard machinery and p!'eClSl':'D of language.. The W;y of a \'(odd is not a colverse written by an artist ofo:dinary poetic sensibilities. For Tomlinson's perception of reality is of a type far removed from that which is commonly called 'poetic'. Early in his artistic career he worked primarily in the medium of painting. The 'poet, a wnter of a little more than a decade's expenence, bas yet to abandon h1s painter's view of the world. It is with the coo.stant :md eye of an artisan, acutely conscious of the three dimensional volume of reality, that To;nlinson's poems are composed. a is a curiously .nistitled bo.:>k of verse. e poet1s"basic artistic concems have only the remotest connection with the p:-ocesses of society, p>litics o: the lives of individual htm1an beings. Al though a few of the included in the volume, such as "The Vvay of a and "Prometheus" make external references to polit1cal Situati ons, none of them attempt to remain on this level. To.nlinson's are metaphysical with and between the brute objects of the physical world. The auth the gull swaying, toiling against the two Gravities that ro;,t and up:oot the trees To':Illinson, in his p:'Ose poem entitled "Skullshapes" best defined the nature of his own poetry in these "The skull of nature is recess and volume. The skull of. art -of possibility --is recess, volume and also lines -lines of containment, lines of extension. In seeing, one already extend> the retinal searc..'IJ.ingly and instantaneously. Brush and pen extend the search beyond the instant, touc.'l discloses a future ... a play of tmiversals, It is this "search beyond the instlllt, working from the moment, linearly, to the tmiversal which is the ant feature of his artistic p:-ocess. To be sure, Tomlinson's su::cess is somewhat less than complete. In spite of his skill in reconstructing experience from its bare essentials, by means of deftly and crafted, stal'k images, the is, at times, limited, p:etentiously learned, and maTred by a tend.ancy 1:0 aescend from metaphysics to epigram. An example of this latter deficienc-1 can be found in these lines: R could elevate the bare stone of a trUI:h into the instant architecture of a fable, His poetry is marked y camp ct, teuse phrases molded commonly into short, sparsely ptmctuated lines, Occasionally, his works are ordered in fo:m type stanz a > and metrical patterns, To':Illinson's poems are rhythmi cally creative, although it is not an especially rare oc currence ao which they dissolve .into a kind of non-sen sical rambling, One of the mo.'C features of his verse, p:-e sent to a large degree in his prose is its obstru sive obscurity. Working within the highly abstract realm of the mind. Tomlinson is not seldom tmable to find suitable, objective correlatives his idea<>, In such metaphysical the reader is able to watch the artist grope line after line for the word or phra>e which he needs to perfect his image, circling back to previous lines confusedly, and finishing with a not-so-neat, ino:'ganic paCkage with a witty abstruse quip tied to :its tail, like a cute o;namental bow, Tomlinson's verse is intelligent and inclusive, The poet displays a genuine feeling fo: parad:>x, and is able to load oxymo:onic phrases with a go.:>:l deal of suggestive cleverness. His poems, in the manner of contemp>.ary wo:ks, al'e not distinguished by a harmonious relation of parts, but by their ability to achieve a necessal'ily teutative reconciliation of dis cordant elements, Yet, the po'!t's verse is flawed by a disconcerting absence of urgeucy, The success of his poetry is largely dependent upon his deftness in establishing a convincing relationship between objects and b.imself; and objects are simply not alive for him, His works c:m also be found wanting in a sufficient amo1mt of realizable substance of thought. This partic:.tlar deficiency is not attributable to the poet's inabi lity to find something significant to say, l1ut rather to the fact that the slbject matter of his writings is all too often too vague to be effectively comm1micated by his poetic powers. He lacks Dante's ability to :liscover the white pearl suffused on the surface of the white moon Charles To:nlinson is, in conclusion, a knowledgable and worthy poetic craftsman, who<>e are of an un even level of artistic ac..lrievement, His attempt to define reality by means of the spacial relatiO'ls of painting is an ambitous and laudable, but ultimately unsuccessful, one, The poet a lot to say to us, perhap:; more in directly than directly, about the functions and limita;.. tions of. the medium. Ja>:Z heard late at night in a ghetto --Robert Stillman your life OOleS from day to :lay with mean choruses of squalo: melancholy dawn is mute you contrive fo: aoe mo-..-e d:>llar. By night, the song is always heard d>wn the dank and "laked alleys, rats are still with the delphic word. (you cannot soothe the savage man. ) constant surrotmdings with cmstant dreams constant a.Ueyways with constant screams, -'' Marv Thronebery" AN APPLE IN YOUR EYE MAY 18, 1973 .... .... .... ..... REQUIEM . Qui sedes ad dexteram Patrls, miserere nobis. ... .. Resin through the ends of table wood-We stir at Co.'llmi.Oion and lift our eyes To -:rickets sotmding an orange quarter-moon. The fingers of the Priest bless the bamboo ... Then fall to the gilt edged chasuble and the black Ground fog which shackles his ankles, He leans on the handle of a pump. The spigot drips water for dry throats, For the mud which cakes between his toes, And fo.: the blessing of the coffins, --Chris Van Dyk :! .. i .. ........ . .. ... .... .... .. ..... :,::. : ..:: .... .... ...... : .... ... ... ...... ..: ...... ... . . ..:-.: :.:./ :0 .. ......... ....... .... ... DISNEYLAND MIRROR for David Wa$ser en I ask for S y lv1J. 'Plath it's y ou in a bath. We went to the party dressed as dustmops. When i t was over there was no one left inside to sweep the floor. All the maids were mothers in disguise. But you were the skinniest poet al1ve. I answered the telephone. -Norman Stein--Lisa Kernan


MAY 18, 1973 TRAVELERS And here we have the clothes of affluence, the more infcmnal, the more beautifully shocking, University degrees, thick books wrJ.tten especially fot departments of of. distinguished universities that have paid all expenses. They obtain their visas quickly. Good reports of anti-war activities. Prot.ests against the war in Vietnam, In sho:t, they are people who have chosen the sound and correct colll'ISe of History, They have booked their flight against the law, but they are the future's most comfo:table travelers. They feel sweetly subversive, at peace with their conscience. Their Nikons, Leicas, Roliflex shine, perfectly, apt fo: tropical light and underdevelopment. Their noteboolp.laud ';hese unfamiliar husbands, now insatiable. For days after they project slides in the dark living roo-:ns, where the traveler appears, the hero of the family surrounded by Cubans: guides of. the ICAP*, thin and poo:ly dressed, smile at the camera. The crowd of natives fraternally embraces the hero, There are many of these photographs in the wodd, where I appear, looking like a conto:tionist: one resentful eye sta>:es at the camera, the other anyplace else. The wives, cl:lildren, friends of the excited traveler watch and repress their repugnance: I am imprisoned in the snapsho': like a lion in a cage: I roa-r against the .great (eternity, .histo;:y) but can not trlll!Sfo:m the slide trays, can not fcr.llS anything. I am condemned. *Cuban Institute of Friendship with all Peoples Fro:n Provocations (Madrid, 1973) by the Cuban Heberto PadiDa. Translated by Dru Dougherty I & 0 The sky clings To the lait colru before blaci< Deep, full llquid and air, darkest blue So I hold ln its botto"Dless bo-Nl My solitude, opposite of death. AN APPLE IN YOUR EYE 0 --Jessica Humphries II As with peoyle, cities Sighted: Shape changer Form dancer Slow to -reveal Muc..':l to the eye I miss My New York Rock beneath feet Shock against feel Resistance And The lure, the spur rhe a-natural 0 m PAGE THREE --Lisa Keman AUTISTIC CHILD for D. D. I desc

PAGE FOUR AN APPLE IN YOUR EYE MAY 18, 1973 Four Leaf Clover, Four Blade Fan On the couch, the poets are at it again. I know they are JUSt warming up, tuning opinions and puns and one liners and names to be dropped as a n ore hestra tunes before the auoience arrives. One of them --is it David or David or Allen they blur into one most of the time even though one of the Davids is my brother and even though apart from that certain Semitic something they look nothing alike, yet the blur comes over me audio rather than video and the blur in my ears hazes my eyes is up at the stereo, choosing ecclectic listening for to-:r:ii. ;l:ht -Billie Holliday, Gregorian Chants, Pound reading Ginsberg arcing Blake. I sit in the corner of the stifling room, allowed to be silent, waiting for my cue, not the conductor surely not that this is the true anarchy perhaps instead the harp "Which brings to mind a funny story I once heard about Yeats and a 1Harp" brought in at significant moments to drop golden notes into the void and then retire "or was it a clarinet?" They call me their guru, and as long as I produce four good lines a day, not JUSt good lines you understand but standing ovation lines I am allowed to live here even though I am not a poet and even though I work for a li!ing indeed for their living and even though I don't look like a Jew but then neither did Seymour and it is in his mold they insist I be cast. And what will be on the program tonight, boys? Per haps the Funny Hats Symphony, the literary magazine you are always on the verge of starting, proceeding each time only a s far as the famous figures you will invite to be on the cover and what hats they will wear, and how many will be Chinese and which, between bickering and laziness, is dE'stmed to an eternally pre-natal state. Or maybe that twelve-tone number, Modern Poetry Suite, with such well-known and easily whistleable themes as "You don't Judge poets any more by individual poems, but by their work as a whole" and "sure it's shit, but it's good shit!" How about iliat audience participation piece, l"he Poetry Game, where each person makes up :; line of poetry, then in Dick Clark style lets hear it for Line Number One, followed by sustained finger snapping? But the great crowd pleaser, and a favorite with the soloists, is always the Let's Talk About Your Poetry Concerto --"You. must read the French, David, or "You must work to get back in touch with your verse, David," or "Really, Allen, Williams is not the be-all and end-all of poesy!" Or, pos sibly, in deference to the guest, a rousing discussion of novels no one has read. And yes, the audience is to be a distinguished one tonight; female, and for a change a girl no one is trying to make, although the evening will reverberate with the silent screams of spiritual rape. She is a friend of David and Alleru from their strange playground of a college in Florida -the poor girl only writes prose, that lowest of art forms, yet because of her critical abilities she qualifies for this oh so select brotherhood. As long as she conforms to the rules. And of course she will. Waxenburg has spread his already drunken hulk on the couch. Although the most minor of poets, his presence is tolerated, even in a sense worshipped, because he has accomplished the feat which the poets woulC. like most to accomplish (and have the least chance of accomplishing) --he has honest to God gone crazy, institution, shock therapy and all. His singularly uninteresting face, if watched closely enough, comes terrifyingly to life once in a while when his eyes go away and then come back: Tonight he basks in particularly warm reflected glory, having in an inspired moment earlier in the day said to David, "God, man, you look JUst like Apolinaire!" as a result of which comment when lounging in the poetry section of the book store (waiting for someone to come up and ask him if he was a poet, and someone invariably does) David purchased a copy of Apolinaire's verse, which Just happened to have a photograph on the cover, and has since been periodically running to the mirror to examine his gaunt, carefully unshaven face for sign! of greatness. In the street below, I tremble with JOY at being in the Village for the first time. I sniff the air for expresso, strain my ears for T'ne Bird or howl to erupt from some peer into the dark for ghostly, blackdraped figures -but I smell only the sickly smell of grass, hear only loud rock music, see only hippies. 1 immediately (with the smoothe precision born of constant disappointment) withdraw all these tentacles of sense, setting them to feed on the plentiful stores in my mind which never fail to nourish and comfort them. Which leaves only the trembling. There too is the masked (hopefully) happiness at seeing my friends David and Allen again, mixed liberally with There's bound to be a battle, and since my illness my defenses are pitifully weak, offenses nonexistent. But Martha, at my is stron6 and cool and >harp and best of all disinterested and she will cope with them if I canno':. I knock. We enter. and Allen again, and since my illness my defenses are pitifully weak, offenses nonexistent. But Martha, at my side, is strong and cool and sharp and best of all disinterested and she will cope with them if 1 cannot. I knock. We enter. They enter. And I, in the corner, have known it all, known it all. First, the friend, Martha, easy and confident with the confidence of cool blond beauty. She is bright and alert, with a darting wit which once would have been called mercurial, now the wit of the put-on, the parody, the lie. Behind her comes the guest, adversary, victim -slow and thoughtful, examining (with ill-concealed distaste) the f ield, handlinlZ the small talk with a ruminative clumsiness, embarrassed smile, evasive eyes -yet when one catches those eyes for an instant, the seeming weakness is belied. But the poets are concerned with words, not eyes. I smile as I think that it is no wonder the poets (who are greatly concerned with BeaLty) are only interested in her for her mind -trust them to perpetuate the cliche only ugly girls being intelligent, though she herself, through indifference, has done little to help nature. Sal low faced, bespectacled, she shuffles and shrugs, enveloped in masses of unkempt brOWID lair, her body indistin guishable, swathed in clothts much too large, yet at times drawn erect with an ineffable dignity -her certainty about literature and music, when allowed to surface, drawing the shapeless mass into a formal stance of some beauty. When this happens, the poets delicately look away, as 1f trom a cripple exhibiting shriveled limbs. stand and clap. Blond gaze meets dark one, cueing her to laugh. Billie Holliday weeps her woe, shrilly. Almost before she is fairly seated, the sacred folios tumble into her lap; red, green and yellow. The green one contains the poems of my bro1'.ller David, the real poet never having to proffer his own work, as his friends will do it fo: him. He sits apart, aloof, with the sign of the real stamped upon his brow, reacUng 111 have dined with Auden and I have the crabs"; he sits aloof, idly scratc.!Ung his crotcb.. Red is fo: Allen, who once off to Join the Weathermen as his Romantic predecessors would have run off to sea. So we color him red, although those revolutionary passions have been clistilled into more gentle, ones-though his former fervo: was change he is now enamo:ed of the status quo. Bearing a disconcerting (and unwished for) resemblance to Chico Marx, he writes small, perfect poems (crazy old Sal is a pizza pie hell), paces China town eternally searching for the final metaphysical shoowut, and once spent an entire evening lying drunken at the dark girl's feet repeating "'The descent beckons as the ascent beckoned'--the turning point of American verse, Leda, and insisting that she was Franny Glass. He is the only one she looks at with affection, but it is David's mad eyes that rivet her soul. His book is yellow, and with an apologetic glance at Allen she picks it up first, grasps it with an interest that is unfeigned and as yet uncowed. Printed on the first page in simu l;rted child's handwriting, is "How I Spent My Summer Vacation. The monks chant; Kyrie, eleison; Chrlste, eleison; Kyrie eleison, 1 read, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation," and David bids me laugh, yet internally I tighten, can a woman gird her loins? I muse idly. Unsex me here. As I read, a co:ner of my eye David compos-ing his to receive praise. Do you think I have forgotten your boast that I would like anything you wrote? It was true, then, because I loved your eyes. I love your eyes noN but it is no longer true. Taking a deep breath, I nm through my mind the love-ly things you were writing when I met you, to fo.-tify myself against the first section of the five section poem; "I woke up, smoked a, lingered an the memo:y of the great lay I had last night/ I translated some Rimbaud, then went to the refrigerator/ The wo:.:ld swam about me in visions of saran wrap and mayonais11e/ And all the ho::ses had to:mails. 11 Section II is entitled "My Ten Favorite Scngs," and consists of ten song titles, numbered from one through ten, It would be so easy to not say anything, to acquiesce in silent keep his respect and my peace of mind, but my rebellious mouth has already o.pened. "David, what are you doing? How dare you. cheapen .. the word poetry, apply it to this; what the hell kind of shit is this meaningless ... fOl'lllless ... I don't know, the poetry you wrote in Florida, had b-beauty, and fresh!less, I. .. "You're an idiot, Leda, he interrupted her savagely, falling easily, lovingly into his credo, "Yo1re using the standards of the past to judge poetry of the present. I could sit down right no.v and produce a Yeats sonnet in fifteen minutes, but that wouid be meaningless, it doasn1t apply. When the wol'ld is shit, then art must also be shit, we're smashing old forms in society and so must smash them in art. You say that my ten favorite songs isn't poetry and I tell you anything a chooses to mite is The stuff I v.-rot2 in Flo:ida is a lh, it was hopelessly derivative, it bowed down to Eliot and Yeats--it's absurd to think that I spent weeks on that sonnet when Robert Kelly can pr:ny ro<>m and a cat lands taut and arched in the a.-rena, supplanting my tension with its own. "Unreal ldtty 11 I mutter, and laugh my timid, J:rlvate laugh, silently inviting them to join, but they lo:>k away with disgust. Waxenburg, with the ineffable sense of timing that only a drunk can achieve, :ouses himself from his stupor long enough to leer htmgrlly at Martha and burble, the only goy here who's the only goy here in inebriated litany. Allen takes the baton from David, still in motion, miss a beat, and pic..lts "lP on my muttered pun--"Ha! Eliot! When Williams wrote 'and the craft, subverted by thought, 1 who do you think he was talking about, hal1? None other, Leda, none o+.her. Show me just one line of beauty in your precious Elioi:, hah! One line!" Uncontrollably, as enraged at myself for stooping to this quotation swappjng game as I am at his remark, I intone with pompous reverence, "and when we came back, late, from the hyacinth gardens, your arms full and your hair wet, I could not speak, and my eyes failed, 11 but before it was f:Urly out the strange one in the comer, the guru, had nsen. To get things zoing, 1 say II Even the Egyptian pharaohs couldn't change the texture of their hair. The poets '-'Oe the perfect moment for a cigarette, to smoke one as I love to see people, particularly women, smoke them; clenched in long, slender, fingers and sucked upon if they contained the only beauty left in the world, then held interminably, then expelled vehemently through fla-:ed nostrils. First c!rlll, then stupo:, then the letting go .. the paper I will never write about smoking yes the poets would highly ap:(1'0ve of such a and this amuses me tmtil it brings to mind David's Jean Paul Belmondo ci garette trick, and that belongs to then and Floti.da not to now and New Yo:k. I'm not very upset, in fact I'm mO'.-e than a little disappointed in my stubbom calmness. Bur somehow out here, in air that I grew up in sterile Florlda believing to be unbreathable, I am already far removed from in there. The height of the building, co1.1pled with my myopia, obscures the disappointments I felt in the street before, as I can (and ':Io) people this filthy haze with beatniks, expatriates rhymers, II"e Raphaelites, tmico.rns; Stephen DedJus-es, whatever I p!ease. What is it I set aside to laught at when I was alone? Oh yes, the struggling, starving poets have no shower and return home, each to a separate but identical Long Island ho::ne, on weekends to cleanse themselves! Potmd's deliciously nasal tones (must be a favorite, they've put him on again) waft out to ':De here and with them Allen's wo.:>lly head; mumbling and stuttermg a,s usual, he hands me a folded paper napkin, which I know before I open it contains the bolstering message, "0h Lana Turner, we love you. Get up! 11 Because they probably think I'm out here crying and suppose I should be out here crying; instead I'm reviving myself wffiilij"ental refreshment while they partake of mo.-e substantial stuff. Penitent, I resolve (as I have resolved innmnerable times before) to fl.o::>d myself with contem po;ary poetry, in the hope that a flood will break the confines of my aesthetic reservoir, yet I know that, as always before, my traitor hands will reacb. for Yeats though commanded to grab Robert Kelly, and I will be safe in Byzantium instead of hmnillated and :-evolted in Kali Yuga. The beery conviviality reaches me, and I hear the guru (who is in exceptionally fine fo:-m tonight) p:oclaim, "Having carefully analyzed this table I find lt to be composed of four paint cans and a do:t.:," which of course breaks them up. He brings dow.u the house. I realize with a start that I still. clutch the three folios, red, g;.-een, and yello,v, and in an instant of hatred them into the street, to be vomited upou by the Bowery bums below, to fulfill themselves as the shit claim them to be--ashes to ashes and shit to shit amen. The seizure as quickly a:; it came, sucb. violence as foreign to my nature as, I imagine, to that of the gentle hu mo:ist inside. Chuckling weakly, I envision those most dada of dadAists rushing to the streets to retrieve their wo:ks, oozing hypocrisy down the stairs ... Re ad for round two, coacb., shake hands and come out quoting ... The viola, restrung with the finest of cat gut, but usual with a newly strung instrmnent strwg sligh.:ly too tight, returns to i:he stage. In the closest thing to an David can muster, he turns the tall< to fiction, tacitly (condescendingly) inviting Leda to shine. She, as tacitly, declines--opting, I a<>sume, to let him hang hlmself. He starts in on all of us knowing how many times she has beggeaTliiiito it, knowing equally well that he has not and never will. I hear of his monologue, inte.rspersed with pictures of Leda's placid, too placid, face and my fJwn inco::n frehensib!y rising anger. "Novels should !lever be longer than two hundred pages .. Catcher in the Rye is the greatest novel ever written .. A well trained reader-trained on poetry of course--need ":lot read mo:-e than a few pages of a novel to all he needs from it .. 11 The o+.her David deigns to comme.nt, "As Auden once opined to me at the table .. punctuated ':Jf Allen's mad mumbling ... her placid face; the purring cat rolling on the flooi', the lUting tone of Ginsberg ing 0-0-0-0-Rose, thou a-a-a-art si-i-i-ick .. "Prose writer only failed anyway, 11 her flaccid pace I am frantically beating !)avid 'Wer the head with an axe, in time to Orlovsky1s f'mger cymbals, instead of blood .his eaTS forth hair like mushrooms, ve.ins like auto:.nobiles, used nudes, windy melcms, I beat his eyes, chop to sever his holt! on the woma-a, the beaten eyes rain flames upon the filthy woo:leu flo-::>; they lick at the beer cans, the decaying cartons Chinese foo:l.?_ the grimy sheets, we!l fed roaches, skin of poets au erupt in cleansing fire, the flames are red, gree.u, and fello.v .. the woman leapG fro':ll the fire escape onto the back of the swan that has finally come fer. her, while in the comer I have kno.v it all it all. -Carol Levenson

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