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Page 88

Where a work of art becomes chaos,
it doesn't let us in. How can we contribute
to a game with no rules? We don't know
whom to cheer, whom to boo. What blanks
can we fill in with our dreams, when we
can't tell the blankness from the text?

The moral to be taken from those who decipher
art is: Artist, give us a game to play, or we'll
make YOU the game. We'll prove
you're secretly gay (and not in the old sense)
or even dead. (Being secretly gay in the old sense --
filled with joy that is revealed only to those
who can see the glitter in your eyes -- is too
intimate a thing for even decoders to allege.)
(Death, on the other hand, is public,
like a frog. Croaking is croaking.)

Many authors are, of course, secretly dead.
And much scholarship is decoding -- the dead
leading the dead (or burying their dead?).
And seeing that critics and scholars often prefer
what's obscure, many writers, wanting attention,
throw the scholars juicy red meat, their work
become encryption demanding decryption.

Encrypt contains crypt. It is risky to play dead.
It makes it hard to tell if you are.

Note: I mock art as code to decrypt, yet provide these notes. Hah! (Decrypt: Raise from the crypt. Lazarus, my poem, ARISE!)

The lines about "gay" and glittering eyes allude to the Yeats poem, "Lapis Lazuli".

"How public, like a frog" is one of Emily Dickinson's gems.

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