Sunday, April 26, 2009


Or take Wallace Stevens’s poem, “Of Mere Being,” for example:

“The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze décor,

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.”

Sometimes the best one can do is to buy The Palm at the End of the Mind, a book of selected poems and a play by Wallace Stevens, in a random, half-priced bookstore. To reread him, the insurance man from Hartford, Connecticut. Sometimes in the already/not yet, the best one can do is to be an insurance man and write poems about the imagination. Or to be an intellectual property man and write the occasional ellipsis… The occasional blue silence. That merely stands uneasily for what one understands. Or what one comes to. Or what one has to say.

Sometimes the best one can do is to regard the redbuds in Columbus, Ohio, surrounding the house of one’s ailing sister. The redbuds in April. Bursting into the color of fire-coals this way and that. A pink. An almost lavender. A color wood will sometimes become after hours of burning. Wood that glows in the ephemeral flames, surrounded by ash. Redbuds. Surrounding the house surrounded by the improbable green. Irregular flower-works. Flowery wood-works. Striations akimbo against the blue sky. Their red-budded branches also dangled down.

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