Words & Pictures East Coast, LLC

[Home] [Bookstore] [Gallery] [Poets/Artists] [Fun Stuff] [Vital Links] [Contact]


Art Gallery

Poetry & Humor
Lots of Poetry
Featured poem
Humor/Light Verse

Professional Services
About us
Writing Services
Art Services
Web Services

Visual Artists

Local Events

Fun Stuff
Free Samples
Free Art Lesson
Experimental Stuff

Vital Links
Writing Links
Art Links
WEB Info Links

Email & Address Info

[Previous] [Menu] [Next]

Page 212

If you have nothing to say, say it. The talk
is the thing. This notion of art as endless conversation
emerges from time to time, a bold, eccentric thread that has
long been hidden on the obverse of the tapestry -- emerges,
led by a needle, a teasing penetration, emerges as
Rabelais, Tristram Shandy, Pogo, The Confidence Man
(Tristram's evil twin, Melville's only novel narrated by
the whiteness of the whale), even Winnie the Pooh --
all works mused by the imp named "Hodgepodge",
discursive, never beginning, never ending, works
that speak of themselves speaking of themselves,
speak through characters that emerge from and subside into
a single flexible voice that (if you turn it to the right slant
of light) becomes letters on a page or, by turns,
a coy smirk or a tragic mask or a calm twinkling.

Endless conversation, art as companionableness,
tales told around the hearth, hypnotic flame
and its shadows making darkness dance,
familiar voices becoming, briefly, strange
as one nods off, jolts awake; and for the most
sober words, the grandest eloquence, somewhere,
off to one side, an embarrassing truth from a child
or a mutter from a sot or a rhinestone necklace of silly puns
from a chorus of good-ol'-boy jesters
(Yorrick? Toby? Holland Owl? Churchy LaFemme? Bewitched,
Bothered or Bemildred?) -- hate and envy and pain all,
for one endless night, domesticated, quaint or at least
unable to undo the safeness of this place for talk;

sentences that unpeel in onion layers, rooms in which
even the tiniest children, though unseen, may be heard,
and why not? Talk is talk. And if the voices go still,
the log crackles on, the flames continue to waggle their fingers,
shaping and misshaping the darkness. (Pope wrote of endless night
swallowing all. But I speak here of endless nights that linger,
toying with their food. As endless as we have another log
to add to the fire.)

Some logs become blank pages. Others become a mild warm
flickering light in which it is safe to say anything at all.
What's the difference? Even in this age of computers
with their cold, shadowless flicker, we begin our chats
with a log-on.

Note: Lawrence Sterne's Book is actually The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Esq. In stanza 2, Yorrick and Toby are characters from Tristram Shandy, participants in that book's seemingly endless chattiness. In stanza 3, Holland (i.e., howling) Owl and Churchy Lafemme (i.e., cherche la femme) are characters in Pogo, better known as Owl and Turtle. Bewitched, Bothered and Bemildred are the three bats, also from Pogo. In stanza 4, Pope's lines about endless night swallowing all are from his mock-epic poem The Dunciad, where the night that swallows all has to do with the emergence and predominance of really bad poets (in Pope's far-from-humble opinion). The trouble is that later opinions agreed with Pope to such an extent that most of us have never heard of the then-prominent poets he mocks so well.

[Previous] [Menu] [Next]