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Page 236

The trick is, creation doesn't stop at the page.
I can continue to speak to you here (without emptying myself out,
leaving nothing but the foul wind of nostalgia [stale nausea]) because
I speak to someone or many ones – I create them to speak to them.
If I build you, you will come. If I make a pretty bird house,
some bird will make it home. If I create you well enough,
real you's will (as the dress designer promises) become you.

Because I want to play, the you I create wants to play,
wants to contribute to these motions, boom ostinato to my melody,
add curlicues to my serifs and speed lines to my logical leaps
(Look! Up in the sky, it's a Bard!...).
You are no hmmmhmmming analysts; no, you respond,
you create back at me. You do this because that's the you
I create as I create these poems (or whatevers).

(Creating a reader is a lot like creating play with a dog:
If I say to the dog, in a playful voice, while hugging him,
"You bad bad dog!" and at the same time swat him hard,
he wiggles in ecstacy, panting, pouncing with forepaws,
wanting more. If I swat him far more lightly while saying
in a deep, scolding tone – frowning – "You good dog!",
he cowers, ducks his head and peers up at me from below
and sidelong, propitiating. Dogs and readers are such
stupid creatures. But loveable. Yes, yes, reader, we'll go out
for a poem together later, but now I have to go to work.
Sorry. Poor reader, waiting so avidly for something to happen,
for someone to say something to him.)

I even create moments of doubt that you are here with me –
in response to your own moments of doubt that I am here
with you. Hide and go seek. I feign panic (or feign feigning),
loneliness, desperation, monotony. Yes, given play, given
knowing that we are all here at play and that everything
damned well comes out all right, I can do all the deadly things
(passion, endless talk-talk-talk, despair) and emerge
unscathed. (Why is no one ever scathed? I used to be scathed,
so now I'm speaking ex-scathedra – scatheter of the absurd.)

(That's the manic glee I was talking about. Soon one of us
will be going to Mom in tears, saying "He punned at me!")

Shall we plunge into depths (we have the entire ply of the page
beneath us) and rise up out of the page in great, arching
dolphin leaps, bring good cheer to tired sailors
who cling tight to the surface?

(I take back the part about readers and dogs. In trials
before a carefully selected cross-section audience in
Indiana, that part didn't go over well. The producers insist
that I rework it. Maybe compare readers to cockroaches
or angels.)

Note: Stanza 4:"Scatheter of the absurd", etc. – plays on ex-Cathedra, catheter and theater of the absurd. If I can speak as I do in my poems and emerge unscathed, then, no longer "scathed", I am ex-scathed, or (if we add in the possibility of speaking with that much praised "authoritative voice" that critics laud, then we add "ex Cathedra" (speaking from the seat [but not ass] of authority). Hence, ex scathedra. Since a catheter is a tube inserted into a body's orifice, usually to withdraw fluid (e.g., urine), "scathedra" suggests "scatheter", poet acting as a tube/an authoritative voice/a scathing voice (all of these) to draw out or convey, in this case, absurdity (as the Brits say, I enjoy taking the piss out of you -- British slang for mocking you), since "catheter" suggests "theater" which leads to "theater of the absurd". If this string of puns seems strained, it's because I'm scathing on thin ice.

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