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Page 249

I'm really a VERY boring poet. Not only do I have no scars
to show you, no war stories, no losses to speak of,
especially to speak of (and besides, Pam shall not
be lost, no, Pam shall not be lost). Also I have
no regrets – as you may have guessed from all the
stupid puns I have NOT edited out of this work...play...
Really, I'm loafing here. It's my stale, crumbling loaf.
Maybe I'll have regrets when I grow up. Give me time.
I'm just 62 and a half – going on 63, and how I do go on!
(He, randomly, ran dumbly on.) Also I don't believe any of us
ever die (we don't get off that easy; and I hear some never
get off at all). And I don't believe in mysteries or complexities;
that is, they are fun to contrive and resolve, but not daunting.

For example, biology ("The Mystery of the Human Brain!")
and astronomy, with its billions and billions; string theory,
with its multi-dimensional dementia; any science that
only 12 people understand (this is novel: to create a language
that is born unspeakable, stillborn extinct).

I won't say all these vast complexities are bunk,
nor the critics' analyses (I adore them) of how any poem
worth its weight in reader's attention beams gets from
where it starts to where it ends: The analysis will always
fall short of the poem's complexity, because the poem's
complexity is simple. How simple to pull the plug
from a tub full of complexly agitated water. How easily
you just now (when you read "tub full of agitated water")
created your own instant and complex picture or concept
of agitated water! Biology! What a maze of cellular
and sub-cellular interactions! Tell me about folding proteins
(or Protean pre-teens) or what an enzyme does (junior officer
on a ship, right?) or a hormone (or a whore's hoarse moan)
or a neuron (not the old Ron!) – quick! Tell me!

And yet, this is how we hide from ourselves
(as our hands rapidly shuffle life beneath hard shalls)
how simply we endow life – with a thought, a simple thought
at that, many such thoughts ("goodbye" or "hello" or
"Aren't you something!" or "Good boy!" will do) --
one thought gives us a world of life, to which we add
complexity enough to conceal the thoughts that ignite
life, not wanting to know how easily a thought
can undo what a thought has endowed.

Notes: In stanza 1, the "Pam shall not be lost" refers to Sam Johnson's speaking of a man who shoots cats, then stating solemnly that Hodge (his cat) shall not be shot, no Hodge shall not be shot. Pam is my wife, not my cat. My current cat is Gypsy, who also shall not be lost. The "billions and billions" of astronomy refer, not to its budget, but to Carl Sagan's televised raptures about the billions of stars -- as many as my body has cells? One orgasm is a small galaxy -- no doubt a milky way (not the candy bar. [Is that what "Mr. Goodbar" means?]). In stanza 3, the folding of proteins have been in the news lately, as one sort of protein origami is blamed for Mad-Cow disease. Pre-teens are protean in the sense that adolescence hardens the personality, limiting possibility (or so it seems for many teens). Pre-teens, thus, seem relatively flexible."Enzyme" suggests "ensign.". In stanza 4, the shuffling of life beneath hard "shalls" (social and other requirements) suggests the old shell game (which shell covers the pea?), keeping it a secret from ourselves how much the things that determine the forms our lives take are our own thoughts, our own decisions. The idea is that simplicity becomes complexity when we conceal from ourselves the sources of things.

The summary of our the motive for our usual complex approach to life, "not wanting to know how easily a thought can undo what a thought has endowed", is pretty good for a phrase devoid of puns.

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