Sunday, January 17, 2010

Be Sharp

I have a suggestion to make: draw the sting out  
as probingly as you please. Plaster the windows over   
with wood pulp against the noon gloom proposing its enigmas,   
its elixirs. Banish truth-telling.

That’s the whole point, as I understand it.

    - John Ashbery, "Boundary Issues"

Of the ancients, the less said, the better. That was then, this
is the beginning. Let's agree on principles, on plaster, on wood pulp,
on wire. Let's put a line out there, let's traffic in particularities
and not get worked up about the word, the weather, whatever.
Let the letters themselves line up in silence and stand for nothing
but what they are: an G, an E, the shadow of an F, maybe. So what
if C flat is really not the same as B sharp? It was a good joke,
a random thought, and perhaps the more apt for being imaginary.

At the museum the sign said, "Paint what you can't see; see
what you see." No real attribution, not that it matters much.
The point is there's a point there, which I take to be,
there's no point in mere replication. The world speaks for itself,
more eloquently than you or I might hope to say on its behalf.
And yes, it's tragic, and pointless, it leaves us dumb. And so
we turn our attention back inward, we tap a little rhythm
on the table and let ourselves drift back: that day at the farm

when the log came sailing over the wheelbarrow and opened
a hole over the eye, standing stunned and blood everywhere.
Surprise. And later, lesson learned. Or that time on the ladder,
when the wood under the crowbar suddenly splintered and
out you sailed, pinwheeling to the oh so solid earth. That one
hurt too. That's the thing about composition: you start over there,
but what with one thing and another you wind up with windows,
with wells, with nothing that adds up to much, and then its over.

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