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“the oxford companion to modern poetry”

the oxford companion to modern poetry

…the major part of his verse is published on his very sparsely visited WordPress blog.
He is still part of the Romantic school even though this mode has long been repudiated.
His work lumbers through the same recurring themes over and over again —
the failed (or failing) romance, the ever popular carpe diem trope and a kind of bitter melancholic nostalgia that this reviewer, for one, finds distasteful.
An early instructive example is “Astrophysics (Halley’s Poem)”.
Here the lover is unflatteringly compared to Halley’s Comet.
She left the poet in 1986 traveling at high rate of speed and the grandiose Galileo quotation would only gild the lily if there was a lily to gild.
His more recent work such as “And the operator said, ‘May I help you please?’” again finds the poet au fait with loving and losing.
Poems such as these have this reviewer wondering whether Tennyson’s famous aphorism is generally applicable.
Providentially his verse is interlarded with songs from the 1970s (the poet’s salad days) and occasionally (and regrettably) some hair metal classics.
We do not expect a volume of his collected works at this time but anticipate further elaboration of these leitmotifs on his blog.

— J.S.

My precious queen, forbear, and give true evidence to his love, which stands an honorable trial.

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1965)

ANTONY:
Hear me, queen:
The strong necessity of time commands
Our services awhile, but my full heart
Remains in use with you.

Antony and Cleopatra

Never Can Say Goodbye

And the operator said, “May I help you please?”

National Geographic Magazine (1948)

I waited all night, I remember that
smoked a cigarette
watched TV
went out and saw some friends
drove by your house
went to a bar and had a beer
got back home and tried to sleep…

— J.S.

I knocked the phone off the nightstand
And the operator said, “May I help you please?”
and I said “No thanks, baby tonight there ain’t no help for me —
see I just had a bad dream, that’s all that’s wrong with me
see I just had a bad dream.”

Crying In My Sleep

Sonnet CXLV

Photograph by Amarpreet Singh via Pixabay

THOSE lips that Love’s own hand did make
Breath’d forth the sound that said ‘I hate,’
To me that languish’d for her sake:
But when she saw my woeful state,
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that ever sweet
Was us’d in giving gentle doom;
And taught it thus anew to greet;
‘I hate,’ she alter’d with an end,
That follow’d it as gentle day
Doth follow night, who like a fiend
From heaven to hell is flown away.
‘I hate’ from hate away she threw,
And sav’d my life, saying—‘Not you.’

— Sonnet CXLV (in late 1582 William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway)

Sooner Or Later

“The Road Taken”

George C. Laur, “Students on Their Way to Senior High School…” (ca. 1975)

The Road Taken

Two hundred roads diverged from a yellow house,
And sorry I could not travel all two hundred
And be one traveler, briefly I stood
And looked down one and thought it was good;
And looked down the other one hundred and ninety nine
And thought they were mine.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Even knowing how way leads on to way losing track,
I never doubted that I could come back.
I am telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages ago:
Two hundred roads diverged —
I took number one ninety nine to my regret,
And that is what I can’t forget.

— J.S. (cf. Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”)

Broadway Hotel

meditating upon the meaning of the line “clams on the halfshell and rollerskates” in the song “good times” by chic

cf. photograph by Thomas J. O’Halloran, “The Plum disco dancing [1119 21st St. NW]” (1977) and
video by Luiz-Jorge-Artista via Pixabay (edited and recomposed collage by me)

go away, you bitter cuss.   it’s still 1980 somewhere, some corner
  of your dark apartment
where the mystery of the lyric hasn’t faded.   and love is in the
 chorus waiting to be born

— D. A. Powell, meditating upon the meaning of the line “clams on the halfshell and rollerskates” in the song “good times” by chic (excerpt) (Poetry, September 2006)

Good Times by Chic

Greeting Card

cf. TV commercial (ca. 1987)

Alas! is even love too weak To unlock the heart, and let it speak?

Ah, love, let us be true To one another!

Bright are the stars that shine Dark is the sky

Love seeketh not itself to please,

If thou must love me, let it be for nought Except for love’s sake only

And to his eye There was but one beloved face on earth, And that was shining on him.

She knew she was by him beloved

All passions, all delights, Whatever stirs this mortal frame, All are but ministers of Love,

And in Life’s noisiest hour, There whispers still the ceaseless Love of Thee,

Love is not a feeling to pass away

My heart’s so full of joy, That I shall do some wild extravagance

Love is most nearly itself When here and now cease to matter.

You who suffer because you love, love still more.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever

I love thee, as the good love heaven.

Love keeps the cold out better than a cloak.

Imparadis’d in one another’s arms.

Love is the crowning grace of humanity,

Not grace, or zeal, love only was my call,

Love’s too precious to be lost,

We love but while we may

Love will conquer at the last.

Omnia vincit Amor; et nos cedamus Amori.

To see her is to love her,

Oh my luve’s like a red, red rose,

❤️
— J.S.

Chapter and Verse

Et tu, Brutè? (a true story)

cf. Kim Rintling, “IMG_5859” (1980) (edited)

Et tu, Brutè? (a true story)

I stepped out of my office to have a cigarette.
It was about 11 o’clock and I needed a break.
I was standing near the parking lot when I noticed a large shadow.
I could vaguely hear a muffled argument.
I looked up and to my horror and surprise I saw the Little Caesars blimp
coming in fast, low and right towards me.
I could see the pilots arguing in the gondola so I started waving in what must have seemed like a futile gesture.
The wind picked up and the blimp began to fishtail down the street —would it hit me, my office or my car?
It must have been headed to a grand opening or something but my office had nothing to do with it.
I tried to light another cigarette out of nervousness but it’s difficult in the wind and then I realized it probably wasn’t a good idea to have an open flame in the area.
After what seemed like an eternity the ship seemed to right itself and it sauntered past me and down the adjacent street.
I ran inside and tried to pull myself together.

— J.S.

Up, Up and Away

The Birth of Bacchus

La Dolce Vita (1960)

But if he be indeed the thund’ring Jove,
Bid him, when next he courts the rites of love,
Descend triumphant from th’ etherial sky,
In all the pomp of his divinity,
Encompass’d round by those celestial charms,
With which he fills th’ immortal Juno’s arms…

— Ovid, Metamorphoses (Tr. Garth, Dryden, et al.)

Give Me An Inch

footfall

cf. Photograph by Shane Rounce (detail) via Unsplash and CGI by pixel shox

footfall

i stepped back into time
waded into the same river twice
you know, nick had some really good advice for gatsby
it’s easy to get lost
romance glancer
true love chancer
happiness chaser
gone again spacer

— J.S.

Spacer

evocation

Carol M. Highsmith, “Dramatic View of John Hancock Building, Boston, Massachusetts” (ca. 1980)

evocation

i called you on the telephone
i was on mass ave
with a guitar and flowers
on the wind
summer twilight
and your voice

— J.S.

Sharing The Night Together

“Scott, your last fragments I arrange tonight…”

Scott, your last fragments I arrange tonight,
Assigning commas, setting accents right,
As once I punctuated, spelled and trimmed
When, passing in a Princeton spring—how dimmed
By this damned quarter-century and more!—
You left your Shadow Laurels at my door.
That was a drama webbed of dreams: the scene
A shimmering beglamored bluish-green
Soiled Paris wineshop; the sad hero one
Who loved applause but had his life alone;
Who fed on drink for weeks; forgot to eat,
“Worked feverishly, ” nourished on defeat
A lyric pride, and lent a lyric voice
To all the tongueless knavish tavern boys,
The liquor-ridden, the illiterate;
Got stabbed one midnight by a tavern-mate—
Betrayed, but self-betrayed by stealthy sins—
And faded to the sound of violins…

— Edmund Wilson, from the Dedication to “The Crack-Up” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Back on the Chain Gang

“Santayana wants me, Lord, I can’t go back there!”

“PHILOSOPHICAL” DIALOGUES BETWEEN SOCRATES (S) AND AN IMAGINARY INTERLOCUTOR (ii):

 

S: Wittgenstein at a restaurant or we can dine at home.

ii: Bertrand, can you Russell up some dinner for me?

S: Francis, Bacon sure smells great when it’s cooking doesn’t it?

ii: That hits Lamarck.

S: I Goethe go.

ii: Rousseau long!

 

S: Let’s play Heidegger seek!

ii: I Kant find you!

 

S: Hegel, what’s going on?

ii: We were supposed to go Schopenhauers ago!

S: Don’t put Descartes before the horse! We’ve Spinoza this many times before.

ii: John, Locke the front door and we’ll get going.

 

S: Foucault? I didn’t hear the phone ring.

ii: Hume are you referring to?

S: Camus come over to visit today?

ii: I’m Newton town so I’m not sure where to go.

S: I’ll Nietzsche in front of my house. Drive Pascal and then take the next left. Husserl can you get here?

ii: Is your house Nietzsche and clean?

S: Rousseau it is. I really Fichte this place up. It looks great. Kierkegaard-en I told you about with lots of flowers.

ii: If that’s Sartre than I’m a Hottentot.

 

S: Santayana wants me, Lord, I can’t go back there!

ii: Don’t Thoreau your life away!

Indiana Wants Me

“parking lot denouement”

Maclean’s Magazine, 1970

parking lot denouement

the passionate shepherd stood next to his honda civic
juliet stood nearby
all the stars in the sky
time slowed down
our lives were suspended
just for a moment
at a point turning
and then you were gone
the parking lot was empty,
all the pleasures waiting to be proved

— J.S.

There She Goes

Ceci n’est pas une intersection.

Photograph by Daniel Monteiro via Unsplash

Ceci n’est pas une intersection.

In the warm twilight
I am translated
refracted
at the red light
the song on the radio
preternatural
holding, as ‘twere,
the mirror up to nature
and unravels my heart

— J.S.

Inside Out

Delia 1: Unto the boundless Ocean of thy beauty (The Strawberry Blonde)

Maclean’s Magazine (1967)

Unto the boundless Ocean of thy beauty
Runs this poor river, charged with streams of zeal:
Returning thee the tribute of my duty,
Which here my love, my youth, my plaints reveal.
Here I unclasp the book of my charged soul,
Where I have cast th’accounts of all my care:
Here have I summed my sighs, here I enroll
How they were spent for thee; look what they are.
Look on the dear expenses of my youth,
And see how just I reckon with thine eyes:
Examine well thy beauty with my truth,
And cross my cares ere greater sum arise.
Read it sweet maid, though it be done but slightly;
Who can show all his love, doth love but lightly.

— Samuel Daniel, Delia 1: Unto the boundless Ocean of thy beauty

The Strawberry Blonde

“the docent”

Patio from the Castle of Vélez Blanco (1506–15) on view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 534

the docent

just before
closing time
i found myself
in european sculpture and decorative arts
lost in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries
with so much to learn
and you resplendently reverberant
in a white blouse
like an impressionist painting

— J.S.

Hatchie — Sure

Super Bowl V ½

cf. Library Company of Philadelphia, “Wissahickon Creek” (detail) and
photograph by Bob Canning via Unsplash (edited collage)

Super Bowl V ½

the ultrablue winter twilight
and my huge snowsuit
as the ball sailed over the clothesline

— J.S.
 

“THE EPOCH”

Art Hanson, “Students Resting in the Hall Against Their Lockers Waiting for Class…” (1975)

At the inn, Coleridge emblazoned into his Notebook, in huge, drunken capital letters, two portentous words, “THE EPOCH”, followed by three pages of frantic scrawl…

— Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections

You Can’t Change That

a persistent question

Photograph by Martino Pietropoli via Unsplash

I want my place! my own place! my true place in the world! my proper sphere! my thing to do, which Nature intended me to perform when she fashioned me thus awry, and which I have vainly sought all my lifetime!

— Hawthorne, The Intelligence Office

my lost self

cf. photograph by Cherry Laithang via Unsplash (edited collage)

like Antaeus
drifting in the darkest night
searching for my long lost self —
my strength
my spirit
myself
and then I touch ground
again

— J.S.

Van Halen – 6/12/81 – Oakland Coliseum

Bright Star

cf. Underwood & Underwood, “Bluff Island…” (ca. 1900)

I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days — three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.

— letter from John Keats to Fanny Brawne, July 1, 1819
 

“moment mirabilis (January, 1983)”

cf. photograph by Karsten Würth via Unsplash (edited)

moment mirabilis (January, 1983)

billie jean on the car radio
on the on ramp
sunlight through a distant willow tree
sparkles glass
far away
cold air through the clouds diverging
I took a deep breath
and accelerated

— J.S.

This moment won’t ever be here again
Try to remember, hold on tight forever
To your life and love every night and day
Hold on and don’t let it slip away…

Hold It

This is the line that for him I pen

cf. photograph by Les Anderson via Unsplash (edited)

I remember
when I was young
rowing into a storm
you were on the shore
running alongside me
shouting something
but I wasn’t listening
now, many years later
I’m still rowing
and I still see you
and I remember
everything you said

— J.S.

Song For My Father

“behind the camera”

cf. Tom Hubbard, “Fountain Square…” (June, 1973)

behind the camera

as you were focusing
on your friend
smiling in his summer suit
next to the fountain
on that hot june afternoon in 1973
her heart was breaking
he had lost his way
fate and destiny
enkindled and unsettled
set in motion
held alone by gossamer threads
and if you look closely
someplace far away
I’m on my bicycle
riding as fast as I can

— J.S.

Sandy Cove

Love brought me (back) here

cf. video by abele62 and silhouette by geralt both via Pixabay (edited collage)

my shadow
still falls
on that window frame
rain
still falls
night
still
falls

— J.S.

Love brought me here…

— Dante, Inferno

Everything returns again
Both the laughter and the rain
She is living somewhere far away…

— The Left Banke, “Desiree”

The Left Banke with the NYU All University Choir “Drama Cantorum” — “Desiree”

Quote

Poem to my 18-year-old self

These sharp Springs
Matter most
After years
Will be time enough to sleep
Carefulness and tears

Now while life is raw and new,
Drink it clear, drink it deep!
Let the moonlight’s lunacy
Tear away your cautions…

Never fear,
Age will catch you…

Only graven in your soul
After all the rest is gone
There will be ecstasies,
These alone

— John Weaver, To Youth (excerpt)

Praeterita

cf. photograph by Sophia Baboolal via Unsplash and video by Coverr-Free-Footage via Pixabay (edited)

I can see them at this moment, those mountain meadows, if I rise from my writing-table, and open the old barred valves of the corner window of the Hotel Bellevue;—yes, and there is the very path we climbed that day together, apparently unchanged. But on what seemed then the everlasting hills, beyond which the dawn rose cloudless, and on the heaven in which it rose, and on all that we that day knew, of human mind and virtue,—how great the change, and sorrowful, I cannot measure, and, in this place, I will not speak.

— John Ruskin, Praeterita

Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels)

“…for time discloses the truth.”

cf. photograph by evalynn via Pixabay (edited)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Betimes I found myself alive again and in downtown London.

And so to the office but I greatly found large crowds about and lost my way and strange moving carriages betimes almost hit me and large houses and great noises all about me so that I could not even collect my thoughts and so lost my wits and many strangers who were moving greatly fast and past me in the streets.

And so to bed. I miss my wife.

— J.S.
(cf. Diary of Samuel Pepys)

Wichita Lineman

palimpsest

Nationaal Archief, “Festive lights in Amsterdam”

palimpsest

for I walked down the sidestreets
with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon
whispered lunar incantations
dissolved the floors of memory
a fever, longing still —
absence seems my flame
bright star,
I am as steadfast as thou art

— J.S.

All I Do