Thank You Richelle

-for turning me on to Matthea Harvey. Contemporary poems for when your mind wants to go wandering not by skipping-which will only get you to the blandest landscapes- but rather hiking. 
This gem here reminded me of the one that follows it.


Ahem said the guards when anyone lingered too long
With their nose in a posy & then came the stuttered
Explanation was required if one seemed to be admiring
Anything could provoke a ticket even a certain glazing
Of the eye that seemed to signify some secret rapture
How the rupture between looking & looking had happened
Was a mystery (perhaps there had once been a sallow queen)
But it was best to wear dark sunglasses & mutter what a waste
Of marble when in the proximity of beauty even if it was
Necessary acts of loveliness such as trimming the olive trees
Were scheduled for Non-Moon nights so the silvery branches
In piles around the ladders wouldn’t have any added
Attraction between young men & women was now a case
Of smuggled petticoats & plain brown cakes that had
Icing on the inside & in the schoolyard children traded
Beauty Cards listing what page & book to look in for something
Scandalous things had happened in a town up north it was
Rumored that all the pretty girls had pranced down the cobbled
Hill holding gold picture frames around their faces & a man
th a cane began surreptitiously tracing where the sun was
Hitting the stones & then the mayor whispered that line of
Shakespeare into his wife’s ear & she looked momentarily
Sentimental outbreaks were not uncommon & there were crews
Trained in containment but they could never predict the next
One day they’d come upon a soda fountain each customer looking
At his or her fizzy drink with an expression of absolute bliss
Or two boys in a basement in ecstasy over something imaginary
Which couldn’t be taken away & poured down the sink

Evil Fate

To lift a weight so heavy, 

Would take your courage, Sisyphus!

Although one's heart is in the work, 

Art is long and Time is short.

Far from famous sepulchers 

Toward a lonely cemetery 

My heart, like muffled drums, 

Goes beating funeral marches.

Many a jewel lies buried 

In darkness and oblivion, 

Far, far away from picks and drills;

Many a flower regretfully 

Exhales perfume soft as secrets 

In a profound solitude.

— from Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire, translated by William Aggeler

Something about the idea of a hidden beauty vs. seen beauty, or what is or is not beauty.... It sometimes seems to me that if it isn't seen it might not exist. But our observing makes it so- like the quantum physicist's revelation that observing a particle changes it. 
If the bits I bought up in Uruguay weren't seen by anyone else as they were by me- which of course they weren't- were they not yet beautiful? So much of what I do is just gathering things up- is my choice of what to use the magic wand that creates "Art"?
By the way, Richelle's Blogger profile, which doesn't lead to her crazy awesome etsy shop in any way I can figure, lists her occupation as "debutante." I thought you should all know. Does the profile lead to a debutanting business? Hmm. 
Ok, but so far my fave is :

At the carnival, Robo-Boy sees only things he recognizes. The Ferris Wheel is an overgrown version of his own bells & whistle eyes. His Flashers, his mother calls them. The tilt-a-whirl is the angle his head tilts when the Flirt Program goes into effect, usually in the vicinity of a Cindy or a Carrie, though once he found himself tilting at the school librarian which caused him to wheel in reverse into the Civil War section knocking over a cart of books that were waiting to be shelved under B. There’s a dangerously low stratosphere of pink cotton-candy clouds being carried around by the children. If Robo-Boy goes near them, the alarms will go off. It’s a kind of sticky that would cause joint-lock for sure. In a darker, safer corner Robo-Boy finds the Whack-a-Mole game. He pays a dollar and starts whacking the plastic moles on their heads each time they pop up from the much-dented log. He wins bear after bear. It’s only when he’s lugging them home, the largest one skidding face-down along the sidewalk getting dirt on its white nose and light blue belly, that he remembers the program: Wac-a-Mole Realism™ —the disk on the installer’s desk. Suddenly it all fits together: the way a deliciously strange thought will start wafting out of his unconscious —and then WHAM, it disappears.

And yeah, I didn't include the name because I'm not wild about it. Whack-A-Mole Realism. Meh.

P.S.- I got a couple brand new folks commenting! Welcome Tina and Louise. Eek! I feel loved. (That was an eek of joy and excitement, not of seeing-a-mouse fear. I'm not afraid of you! Oh yeah, I went there...)


richelle said...

Oh, you are so welcome. I knew you'd love her. I don't like the title of wac or whack or whatever a mole, either. I have one of her books of poetry, and there are a couple of really 'off' things like this. There's one poem entitled, "YOU HAVE MY EYES" and the poem text is: Give them back.
That's it. The whole poem. It's practically embarrassing. I get that it's conceptual and in her own book of poetry, framed by what are clear constructed poems but it strikes me as overly self aware and ridiculous--and a waste of my time as a reader. A nuisance. Anyway, overall there is brilliance. I will never be the same after the little ponies softly breathing in the hard plastic blue cases with handles. I just know she has to be about my age and grew up with those bright plastic doctor bags with the fake pills in their little plastic vials.
Next recommendation: Kelly Link, short fiction. Thanks for linking to my shop and whatnot. It and I are on vacation right now but hopefully it will still be crazy awesome when we return.

fanciful devices said...

the ponies one freaked me out! (getting crushed underfoot- it relates to a recurring nightmare i have, tho. is why.) actually, that 'eyes' thing cracked me up!

richelle said...

Also, James Tate. But you probably already know him if you love Edson.