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Page 158

As peremptory as an angry parent, he says
"Parentheses do not belong in poetry."
(He read that somewhere, written, not
in parenthesis, but in bold caps (caps
to cover the baldness of statement).)
Down with all such otiose appendages!
(Pare to the nth these -- that's my thesis!)

"Para" -- beside; "en" -- in; "thesis" -- from Greek
for "to put": To put in beside, to insert beside.
(Greek-style? From the days when complex syntax
was not shameful and young comrades in arms,
between battles, slept slipt parenthetically
beside one another, in arms, inserted? But
such love is like two open parentheses nested
without close. Deathless love? Or content-less?)

Poetry is claimed to be the antithesis
of parenthesis. (My cousin's parent -- the sister
of my parent. Oedipus re-enters, stage left,
bloody after battle, dazed with revelation,
Pa, rent, he says.)

I like to insert beside (note to grad students of the
optimistic(?) future: sometimes a simile is just
a simile; this poet has bedded no boys, boys).
The best poetry is beside the point. There are too many
points. It's the politically correct, with their horror
of hierarchy, who would not allow the "flow"
of language (Hemingway's syntax: a battle-numbed soldier
putting down one aching foot ahead of the other)
to be interrupted, paused, drawn out, stressed
by differentiation, one thing more important than
another, one clause governing a descending, branching,
upside-down, rippling live-oak of clauses, some
mere twigs, whispers (aside) like bed-talk
between lovers after battle.

Note: I really have had poets in workshops tell me (as if passing on revealed truth) that parentheses are not to be used in poetry. You'll notice that advice didn't take. It comes from the same people who routinely recommend cutting any poem they are shown (thus, "pare to the nth these" – playing on "parentheses"). The baldest statements are often in uppercase – "caps" to cover their baldness?

Stanza 2: "Content-less" -- empty parentheses, no words between them; or love without contentment. The idea is that the Greek men probably lay together spoon fashion: "((" – two open parentheses, no closure ,(Deathless) nothing contained between them.

Stanza 3: Antithesis (Auntie thesis) is the sister of parenthesis (parent thesis). One of the revelations in Oedipus is that the man he killed in battle is his parent (Pa rent – rent, that is, torn, by sword). In stanza 4 I refer to the future as optimistic, because it is optimistic to assume that this poem will last long enough to get meddled with by grad students of literature. I refer to the politically correct as dreading hierarchy, because they do: The politically (really psychologically) "correct" have infiltrated the education system in the U.S.A., for example, with the notion (borrowed from Communism) that hierarchy is evil, that children shouldn't respect parents or churches, that "born equal" equates to all being of equal value, that it's dangerous to reward people for performing better than other people, that everyone should get an A and be encouraged to esteem him/herself, even in the absence of achievement. I connect that disdain for hierarchy to the rejection of prose that delineates the relative importance of its points syntactically, using devices like complex sentences, dashes, parentheses, etc., to indicate levels of hierarchy of importance. The implied contrast is between the prose of Sam Johnson or Jane Austen and the prose of Hemingway. We've so strongly rejected Johnsonian prose that it seems formal to us, esoterically musical, almost poetry.

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