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ARTS AND CRITICISM BAZAAR
ABSENCE January February 2014 Magical Mystery Tour by Robert Miltner Our Spirit Life by Stephen Mead On the Irrelevance and Utter Pointlessness of Delineating Fiction and Nonfiction by Ron Fields Whiskey and an Apology & The Dream by Kelly Jones The Poet in Exile: Musings on Ezra Pound and Sections I-XII of Hugh Selwyn Mauberley by Matthew C. Mackey The cherry tree blessing by Molly Fuller
Magical Mystery Tour Harry fell under a magic spell at his cousin Louis’ eleventh birthday party. Weegie the clown who was hired for entertainment wasn’t very funny, but he could do magic tricks. He pulled a rabbit out of a hat. Doves flew from his sleeves. Watches went under a black cloth into a world of nothingness, and while everyone waited, they never reappeared. Harry had entered a world of poetry and wonder. Harry was hooked. While the clown was packing up to go, Harry tapped him on the elbow. You’re the best magician in the world, he said. Weegie laughed. No kid, he said, I just do tricks. And with that, he took off his red rubber nose, held it up in his left hand, covered it with his right hand, then opened his empty left hand. Where’d it go? Harry asked. The clown put his right hand against Harry’s head and pulled a bright green silk handkerchief from Harry’s left ear. Sleight of hand, kid, Weegie said. That’s all magic is: illusions and prestidigitations. Harry sent for a catalog from Murphy’s Magic Shop and soon had a collapsible top hat, linking rings, and a deck of special cards. He practiced in front of the mirror until his reflection had the tricks down pat. By the time he was fifteen, he was performing at birthday parties. He dressed like a real magician in his black cape. When he
tipped his top hat at the end of shows, everyone gave him a hand. Mothers walked arm-in-arm with him, introducing him to the guests and grandparents. Winking fathers paid him in cash. Older sisters paid him attention. It was as if he had pulled celebrity out of a hat. The summer after he graduated from high school, he decided to go pro. He landed a job on a cruise ship. For the next two years, he entertained bored children and sunburned couples from St. Kits to Cancun, pulling bunnies from hats and making metal rings come apart and go back together. Flowers emerged from closed hands, eggs were pulled from his mouth, fires danced in the palms of his hands. He could even make bottles of champagne disappear to the gasps of the tourists, and he could make them reappear back in his room to the amazement of a blur of sultry divorcees who stuffed their bras with Southern accents. Harry felt he was ready for prime time. He met with an agent, dreaming of doing late-night TV with Fallon, O’Brien, and Letterman, then long runs in Las Vegas. You’re good, kid, agent Jimmy Slick told him, but you’re a two-pitch punk from the minor leagues who’ll never break into the majors. But the disappearing champagne trick? asked Harry. Kreskin can make a fuggin plane go away, Slick said, and Blaine was frozen in ice for 63 hours, Slick added. Even if you pulled those eggs from your ass, you’ll still never make Vegas. Stick to birthday parties and getting laid by spinster aunts. The agent shook his head and walked away. For the next month Harry practiced making bottles of bourbon disappear. One night he decided that if he couldn’t achieve fame for doing the tricks himself,
he would become famous for exposing how the other magicians did them. He’d show the bastards. Within a week of hiring a new agent, Mr. Slycker, his pilot episode was accepted by FOX and he had his own show, Truth or Illusion. The first week it aired, Harry showed how Houdini escaped from chains while submerged in a tank of water. He taught a seven year old child how to pull a coin from his little sister’s ear, and the show ended with the entire audience performing the same trick on the count of three. Harry had pulled a hit from his hat. Over the next few weeks, he showed how doves were hidden in sleeves and rabbits in hats, how women were sawn in half, and how he could levitate or disappear in plain view inside the spinning cabinet. Mr. Slycker signed him to a multimillion dollar contract, and details appeared as if from nowhere: action figures, video games, his own line of magic kits, even an option on a biopic. There was no escaping fame now. Harry was in his dressing room at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York getting ready for a show that would expose how David Copperfield, the richest magician in history, made the Statue of Liberty disappear. He was considering whether the next episode would show how Copperfield levitated over the Grand Canyon or how David Blaine managed to stand for thirty-five hours on top of a pillar in Bryant Park in New York City. I’ll bring ‘em all down, he said, as he passed a small flame back and forth between his hands. A man wearing a black cape suddenly appeared in the chair next to him. Harry jumped up, surprised. How did you get in? he asked It’s a magic trick, the man said. You tell me. What do you want? Harry asked. You have to stop exposing other magicians’ tricks, he said, his hands together as if he was holding something in them. It’s
against the professional code. I speak for everyone at Magicians and Illusionists Local 123. Stop what youâ€™re doing. Peopleâ€™s livelihoods are on the line. Get out, Harry said, and go back to doing birthday parties. You have illusions, but I have the power of truth. Beware the power of consequences, the man said, and disappeared. I could do that trick when I was ten, Harry told the empty room as he left for the studio. That night Harry got his highest Neilson ratings. More people watched his show than watched the NCAA Basketball finals. Rupert Murdock made a special appearance and pulled a piglet from a hat, just as Harry had taught him to do. That night Harry owned the world. He was the star of the show, the moon of illusion, and the sun of truth. Ready to leave to the applause of the studio crew and fans, Harry bowed and tipped his top hat, releasing a dozen white doves. Then he turned, stepped out the door of the theater into the dark alley, and vanished into thin air.
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“Our Spirit Life" by Stephen Mead
These images from a series in progress, “Our Spirit Life”, are photomontages which had a long hibernation period. My mom passed away in January 2002, and then in 2012 in the same month, in the same hospital unit, my father passed away. Both times boxes of family photos came into my possession. Over the years, I’d written poems and done tribute pieces of art for my parents, but I’d been intending to do something with these inherited photos in particular. Going through them again as I prepared a slideshow for dad’s Wake, lines of a Laurie Anderson song kept coming to mind: “when my father died it was like a whole library burned to the ground.” Indeed, knowing how much of my insular upbringing has vanished, I created these montages as a memento mori for the life which was, yet also as an acknowledgement of how much it is encapsulated as a living story within me. The is part of these montages comes both from sky footage I took and used both for Dad’s film and as ‘stills’ to mix with images from the past, as well as my own photos of the rural surroundings our lives shared. “From the Sweet Bye and Bye” Stephen Mead
“The Spirit of Home” Stephen Mead
“A Ritual of Faith” Stephen Mead
“Fade into Me” Stephen Mead
“Song of Generations” Stephen Mead
“The Movement of Generations” Stephen Mead
For more information regarding Stephen Mead’s work visit
On the Irrelevance
and Utter Pointlessness of Delineating Fiction and Nonfiction by Ron Fields It’s one of the first distinctions we learn, after moving slightly beyond See Jane Run. After the encounter with the written word, we learn that there are two categories of writing – only two, and polar opposites, at that: fiction and nonfiction. As described on Oracle’s Thinkquest Foundation website, and described very much earlier by my first grade teacher Ms. Becky Cook, fiction encompasses those stories “made up by the author, or are not true.” After grasping that concept, we easily understand nonfiction by what it is not: it is not fiction, or it is not not true. Okay. Maybe it’s not so easily understood, but we know the negatives cancel each other out. Therefore, nonfiction must be true. But what is “true”? Ernest Hemingway said, in A Moveable Feast, to start writing with “one true sentence, the truest sentence you know.” Why, then, do I not find The Sun Also Rises in the reference or history section of the local bookstore? When he wrote that novel’s first lines, “Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton,” was he setting us up for a biography? Were those words not true? Steinbeck’s invention of the Great Depression in The Grapes of Wrath seems far more true and real than a story of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt. I sense more heartbreak – perhaps the single truest human emotion – in George after shooting Lenny than I do in God witnessing the torture of humble Job. It is true that the name Noah means ‘comforter’ in Hebrew. But is it true that a man named Noah gathered two of every animal on the entire earth and put them in a single, massive wooden boat? If that
story is true, how is it that the platypus and the Tasmanian Devil – two creatures that Noah could not possibly have known about due to their geographic isolation—continue to exist? Did Noah miss them? What about the person under Noah’s instruction who had to go out and sex the rattlesnakes, making sure they only had one female and one female exactly? What did they feed the crocodiles, caimans, alligators, etc? You see my point. Maybe John Edgar Wideman, paraphrasing Chinua Achebe’s account of an Igbo saying, is right when he says “All stories are true.” Elie Wiesel certainly tells a compelling story in Night; by the end of that novel (history? autobiography?) we are as shocked to see the gaunt skeleton in the mirror as the narrator himself. But what about Infamous Liars, like James Frey? He was the unlucky recipient of a thorough scolding by Talk Show Queen Oprah Winfrey for the “embellishments” of his memoir A Million Little Pieces. Does the truth of drug addiction become less real or more real upon learning that parts were invented? Fiction and nonfiction are meaningless categories, in the end. First, their measure of worth is determined by their impact upon the reader. In his widely successful book The Greatest Generation, author and newsman Tom Brokaw creates a series of characters – each accurate and alive—while developing a story (a history, if you will) that is captivating. The “truth” of that book rests with the reader, as do all truths and falsehoods that we come into contact with. For some readers, the Bible is “the greatest story ever told.” For others, it is an undisputable rulebook. Second, all stories (from a testimony on a witness stand to the campfire story of the Boy Who Wouldn’t Stay in his Cabin) are dubious; they contain truths, falsehoods, lies and damn lies. In short, because all stories involve a reader, all stories will always be true for some and not true for others. Einstein’s theory of relativity may be correct here, when he postulated that measurements of various quantities are relative to the velocities of observers (speed readers, beware: you might mis-measure something). When we face the written, the verbal, or the performative, we should always assume it is both true and false. In doing so, we open our minds to new possibilities that hitherto seemed fictitious.
Whiskey and an Apology The rural Baptist church I barely remembered. Two pictures flanked your casket: one, a soldier, the other a Muay Thai fighter. I kept looking for a picture of you I knew, but that white-trash hippie had been gone for years. Your plan was to play Army, then move to Thailand. Said I should visit you there. That afternoon men in Army uniforms called you a hero as I muttered angrily with our friends. In Thailand, a funeral lasts for at least one week. Crying is discouraged. Mourners try not to worry the dead with their suffering. Outside your funeral bikers made sure anti-war protestors didnâ€™t disturb the service. I never cry at funerals, I cry making coffee, watching a movie, looking for button mushrooms at the grocery store. At Thai funerals, monks come and go, reciting prayers and preparing the spirit to move forward. When the redneck bikers left, after your casket was lowered and mourners had gone away, I went to your grave with Jack Daniels and candles. People had already left dog tags and American flags, fake flowers and little crosses. Thai mourners make a book containing the story of the deceased. They write poems about them and leave them on an altar. Here.
- The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg Florida
This morning I woke itching, the memory of swarming ants brought to life by broken nails and dried blood. My phone vibrated me awake (my sister calling to say he had quit breathing this morning.) In my dream I was planting nests of red ants inside ceramic pots. They grew and bubbled over, covered the walls and carpeted the floors. In the painting there is a bust of a girl. Her hair is long and billowing. Her eyes are shut. Her mouth is closed. Ants crawl over her lips. Men in the corner hug each other. They cry against a wall. The sky is blue. Empty.
and now the e x c it in g c o n c l u s io n ! The Poet in Exile: Musings on Ezra Pound and Sections I-XII of Hugh Selwyn Mauberley by Matthew C. Mackey
PART II Tragedy of the true artist: A sagging roof Pound has established the artist as unwelcomed, unappreciated, and all together disinherited from society. Mauberley, much like Pound, must navigate through a world unfriendly to true artists which leads to an encounter with Brennbaum of section IIX and Mr. Nixon for whom section nine is named. The episode entitled Brennbaum marks the beginning of Pound’s anti-Semitic tendencies, and is most likely a caricature of Max Beerbohm, who Pound mistakenly thought was Jewish (Ramazani, Ellman, and O’Clair 358). In this encounter Mr. Nixon advises the artist on how to make money with the craft of writing. Here we begin to see Pound’s idea of placement of artists and imitators. The section starts with the two meeting “In [Mr. Nixon’s] cream gilded cabin of steam yacht” (146). The section follows with Mr. Nixon’s treatise on negotiating royalties, buttering of reviewers, and pushing one’s work. Mr. Nixon tells the young artist, “I was as poor as you are […]” (150). This serves to separate the artist from the panderer of wares. Nixon goes as far as to tell the artist to give up verse (essentially the art) because “There’s nothing in it” (165). And the commentary is made at the end of the section that “The ‘Nineties’ tried your game/ And died, there’s nothing in it” (168-169). No, Mauberley understands that art cannot be bartered, for it is not a commodity, and like Flaubert’s endeavors, true art is a means to evoke social change, and therefore disinherits himself once again for what Nixon considers the appropriate financial purpose of art. Section X is interesting because it actually places the artist, or stylist, “Beneath the sagging roof” and displays him as “Unpaid, uncelebrated” (170, 172). The “stylist” here may refer to Ford Mad-
dox Ford, as Pound credits him with having pointed toward naturalness and freshness of language (Ramazani, Ellmann, and O’Clair 359). The sagging roof can be taken as metaphor for the “poverty” that society has forced artists into. If this is indeed Mauberley’s persona writing of Pound than it stands to reason that section X may very well read as Pound’s own “poverty” as an artist in London. It might just as well be Mauberley himself lamenting his position after speaking with Mr. Nixon. In any case, we should be concerned with the placement of the artist. Pound’s unique proclivity for disinheritance allows him to detach from a society inept to appreciate art. In fact the section goes on to say, Nature receives him, With a placid and uneducated mistress He exercises his talents And the soil meets his distress. The haven from sophistication and contentions Leaks through its thatch; He offers succulent cooking; The door has a creaking latch. (174-181) The artist continues to offer up his talents, his “succulent cooking” even if only the soil or nature receives his art. Ironically, the artist’s haven is from sophistication, but Pound’s poem is highly sophisticated in construction. Here is a manifestation of art constructed sincerely and naturally against the “cream gilded cabin” of lesser crafts. Sophistication in this case, taken in context with the rest of the poem, means pretension, as the critics, and often patrons, exemplify. The next two sections speak of the artist waiting for benefaction from a “sophisticated” patron. Section XI pairs the mentality of the patron with Ealing, “a part of western London associated with dull respectability” (Ramazani, Ellmann, and O’Clair 360). The speaker comments that “No instinct has survived in her/ Older than those her grandmother/ Told her would fit her station” (187189). The superficiality of society is brought into light once again, and as the artist contemplates this, he is aware of his separation. In section XII, the speaker waits for patroness Lady Valentine. Again, this may be Mauberley speaking of Pound’s experience or Pound
speaking of Mauberley. The significance is that once again through character, Pound the poet, is able to express his concern over the deplorable superficiality surrounding art. Frederick J. Hoffman establishes the scene as such: The young poet, naïve and expectant, views the public drawing-room, considers the matter of patronage. Just how well and how profoundly do these sponsors now like the arts they profess to admire? How much have time and manners corrupted appreciation of the arts? (341) We learn that the artist knows his “coat has never been/ Of precisely the fashion/ To stimulate, in her,/ A durable passion” (194-197). Pound once again separates the character, the artist, from any tradition, time, or manner, which quells the genesis of true art. Section XII demonstrates Pound’s mockery at its best as he criticizes the pretentiousness of the art community. He ridicules Lady Valentine by saying: Poetry her border of ideas, The edge, uncertain, but a means of blending With other strata Where the lower and higher have ending; A hook to catch the Lady Jane’s attention A modulation toward the theater, Also, in the case of revolution, A possible friend and comforter. (202-209) The section closes with “the severely proper integrity of Dr. Johnson is evoked as commentary on modern Fleet Street of today , where ‘the press is wafer’ and commodity […]” (Hoffman 341). The last lines, “Beside this thoroughfare/ The sale of half-hose has/ Long since superseded the cultivation/ Of Pierian roses” (214-217) bring us back to the idea of the Muses’ crown with Pierian roses. Pound successfully examines the world of art and society, and his conclusion still remains that the selling of half -hose (socks) will always be more profitable and socially demanded than the creation of true art. “Envoi (1919)” is the conclusion of
the major group of Mauberley’s poems. The first line “Go dumb-born book” hearkens to the still-born “English Rubaiyat” of the early “Yeux Glauques” section VI. This piece is extremely skeptical of art’s appreciation in the modern world. The speaker believes the book to be un-received by society, “dumb-born,” as was Edward Fitzgerald’s The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Ramazani, Ellmann, and O’Clair 357). This piece is highly reminiscent of his earlier work “Commission.” Both poems express a desire for the “song,” or the poet’s art, to reach the masses and stir social consciousness about art. Pound desires, as evidently as Mauberley does in this poem, that all “live/ As roses might, in magic amber laid,/ Red overwrought with orange and all made/ One substance and once colour/ Braving time” (229-233). The artist, “Bent resolutely on wringing lilies from the acorn” (7), hopes that society might live to appreciate true art, and live in the spirit of art (allusion again to Pierian roses), coming together in unification and change that art allows. Ironically, the speaker is advocating for this book of poems, Hugh Selwyn Mauberley. This book of criticism and derision of the stupidities that prevent true understanding of the beauty of Song is the hope Pound and Mauberley share. The closing of the section emphasizes the speaker’s aspiration that this “dumb-born book” Might, in new ages, gain her worshippers, When our two dusts with Waller’s shall be laid, Siftings on siftings in oblivion, Till change hath broken down All things save Beauty alone. (239-243) Pound’s Disinheritance: Lilies from the acorn Much like the poem suggests, Pound had already disinherited himself from the social ailments that plagued the art world, especially in the British Isles the “obstinate isles” (14) from Section I of Mauberley. In her biography of the poet, Flory describes Pound’s attitude toward England, “Pounds feeling of disgust with the disillusioned mood of postwar London and its hidebound literary establishment had already made him consider living elsewhere, and Paris seemed the most likely alternative” (Flory 322). What is interesting in the construction of Mauberley is the linkage between Pound’s disinheritance from place and his dissatisfaction with traditions and structures, such as Romanticism, Symbolism, and his own Imagism.
He is by now working with Vortist principles, the highly vigorous images, “not the pure, static images he had begun with, but contrasting and ironic images that work energetically upon and against each other” (Caraher 40). The brilliance of Hugh Selwyn Mauberley is that it is at once a commentary and a demonstration of what Pound believes is true art. Modeling the form of Mauberley after his own life encounters and experiences, it is not impossible to conclude that as Pound traveled from geographical locations, as well as traditions, and influences, so did his poetry. His disinheritance is evident in his amalgamation of content, form, and tradition. Caraher suggests that New Critical poetics runs aground in the treacherous waters of Pound’s complicated interplay of voices and tones and his strange intermingling of poetic genres. A reader may well puzzle over whether Pound’s poem is an imagist lyric, an elegiac ode, a Juvenalian satire, a lamentation of the times and mores, or a condensed Jamesian novel. (Caraher 38-39) Pound is looking in Mauberley for a true art. And as the character in Mauberley “fished by the obstinate isles” Pound is, as F.R. Leavis declares, sifting through his interests in various periods and cultures, Provençal, Italian, Oriental, classical, and so on (Leavis 319). On the surface, it is clear that different languages and language properties are present in the poem. French, Greek, Latin, and of course English are all present. Pound is also influenced by his Chinese translations in Cathay and his treatment of the Fenellosa notebooks. His interest in Chinese writing wielded an intense influence on his poetry and precipitated the invention of his ideogrammatic method, an extension of Imagist principles inspired by the condensed precision and immediacy of Chinese characters. (“Ezra Pound” 298) As pointed out by Qian in Ezra Pound and China, this kind of influence can be seen in the verbless paragrammatical movements of section V: “Charm, smiling at the good mouth,/ Quick eyes gone under earth’s lid,” (Qian 64; Pound 357). Again, a multilingual influence is evidenced in the concentrated and typically non-English phrasing of Mauberley in such expressions as “eye-deep” and “age-
thick” from section IV. One can find easily enough allusion to Greek mythology, the presence of the Christian church, and a collection of prominent figures past and present, good and bad. Even some of the writing itself is insinuation of previous writers. For example, Envoi (1919) is an adaptation of “Go Lovely Rose” by Edmund Waller, mentioned in the poem itself (Ramazani, Ellmann, and O’Clair 361). Pound’s contention with remaining in a static tradition is also manifested in Mauberley. First, he implies that Romanticism is exhausted with mention that “Faun’s flesh in not to us,/ Nor the saint’s vision” (49-50) in section III. The “age” is not a part of the tradition that “embraces nature as a model for harmony in society and art” (Qian, “Yeats”). In section X of Mauberley, Pound remarks that the stylist’s endeavors are received by nature and met by the soil. This isn’t an advocating that nature is the model, but rather that the endeavors have returned to nature, as in death, fruitless and neglected. Although Mauberley demonstrates certain nostalgia for earlier times in its constant allusions, it does so to make a point about art and the “hero” who strives to create true art, tragically being struck down as Capaneus was. Furthermore, Mauberley makes no hint at the goodness of humanity or the perfectibility of humankind, another Romantic precept (Qian, “Yeats”). Instead, the poem acts as a criticism of modern life. Symbolism as a tradition is also disinherited from Mauberley, but not completely discarded. There is not a single symbol as focus for Mauberley’s attitude toward society. Nor is there any symbolic representation of the two forces in the poem, Mauberley and society, yet there are symbols mentioned albeit infrequently, such as a tin wreath and Pierian roses for art. Ironically, the caricature Mauberley becomes a symbol in himself as the tragic hero seeking to change the consciousness of the world. In Mauberley, symbolism isn’t all together abandoned, but the technique is changed in order to
achieve a focus on the realities of culture rather than concentrating on internal emotions about the situation. Even the verse of his poetry demanded a new approach. Pound believed that “by 1917 the free verse movement had ‘gone too far’” (Ezra Pound Encyclopedia 230), and thus Pound displays his amalgamated poetics in order to create the new aesthetic in Hugh Selwyn Mauberley. Pound borrowed much of his approach from the visual artists of his time, most notably Wyndham Lewis, Gaudier-Brzeska, and Epstein, but he also admired many other contemporary artists, including Franco-American artist Marcel Duchamp for his “rejection of both traditional forms and those forms devised by his contemporaries […]” (Ezra Pound Encyclopedia 301), which was a trait Pound values and demonstrates in Mauberley. The poem also blends poetic genres such as elegy, satire, epitaph and envoi to further elucidate a move towards an amalgamated and ultimately a disinherited poetic. Caraher gives credence to this amalgamation in Mauberley by saying, “It’s fragmentary, disjunctive construction allows it greater freedom and flexibility in form. It makes use of traditional lyric elements but is not constrained to weld them in strictly traditional ways” (Caraher 45). By distancing himself from these forms, Pound also makes commentary on what the age needs, a new approach. Pound’s social and reflexive criticism in Mauberley serves to illuminate the exhaustion of the artist and the reception of art in his day. What he demonstrates is the practice and achievement of a true art. As a disinherited poet, Pound is free to explore a vast cultural frontier of art and criticism, successfully wringing the lily from the acorn through an amalgamated principle and combating a disillusioned society. With his map in hand, Pound is now able to fully venture into the exiled world of The Cantos in order to further contextualize and advance his poetic vision found in Hugh Selwyn Mauberley.
Works Cited Caraher, Brian G. “Reading Pound with Bahktin: Sculpting the Social Languages of Hugh Selwyn Mauberley’s ‘Mere Surface.’” Modern Language Quarterly 49.1 (1988): 38. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 25 Mar. 2010. Casillo, Robert. “Pound and Mauberley: the Eroding Difference.” Papers on Language & Literature 21.1 (1985): 43. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 25 Mar. 2010. “Ezra Pound 1885-1972.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter, Deborah A. Schmitt, and Timothy J. White. Vol. 112. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999. p298-359. Print. Flory, Wendy Stallard. “Ezra Pound.” American Poets, 1880-1945. Ed. Peter Quartermain. 45 (1986): Dictionary of Literary Biography. Gale Research. Web. 13 Mar. 2010. Hoffman, Frederick J. “The Temper of the 1920s.” The Twenties: American Writers in the Postwar Decade.” Poetry Criticism. Ed. Robyn V. Young. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale Research, 1992. p338 -342. Print. Leavis, F.R. “Ezra Pound.” 1963. “Ezra Pound (1885-1972).” Poetry Criticism. Ed. Robyn V. Young. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale Research, 1992. p318-321. Print. Ramazani, Jahan, Richard Ellmann, and Robert O’Clair, (eds). The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry. 3rd Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003. Print. Pound, Ezra. Hugh Selwyn Mauberley. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry. Eds. Jahan Ramazani, Richard Ellmann, and Robert O’Clair. 3rd Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003. 354-361. Print. Qian, Zhaoming. Ezra Pound and China. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan P. 2003. Print. Qian, Zhaoming. “Vorticist Pound.” Black Board Lecture. Early 20th Century Poetry. University of New Orleans, 2010. Qian, Zhaoming. “Yeats.” Black Board Lecture. Early 20th Century Poetry. University of New Orleans, 2010. The Ezra Pound Encyclopedia. Eds. Demetres P. Tryphonopoulos and Stephen J. Adams. Westport, CT.: Greenwood Press, 2005. Print.
The cherry tree blessing 1. I’m not writing this to make you happy. The grass doesn’t grow there, green and fragrant, springy underneath your bare feet just for you—the cherry tree doesn’t blossom, raining petals down upon your dark hair just because you want it to. I nestle my head in your shoulder, on a blanket spread beneath a tree, and I know that sometimes love is like dying. It is the inability to breathe, to know oneself outside of another. I know what it is like to be consumed. I’m not writing this for you. 2. Immolation.
We meet in the doorway. There are no words as you lead me to the bed. You undress me, lay me down on soft white sheets, rub oil slowly over my bare skin. The sweet scent fills the room.
The ache for you, a blessing, splits me apart with desire. So many years splinter and fracture between us, but the body remembers in stillness, in disintegration, the dissolving into you. I cradle your face between my hands, a prayer: we will be good to each other here. Outside the window, the blossoms from a cherry tree fall to the ground, over and over again.
3. Benediction The hollow bones in my wrists, squeeze them tightly between your two hands, as if you were preparing to bind them with rope, until you can feel the gentle pressure of the blood pumping beneath the skin, until you can feel the marrow inside the bone. Stay, you would say, Stay with me always. My skin, translucent as tissue paper in places. If you could read the veins underneath, like a story written just for you alone, I wonder what translations of blood, and tissue, and bone we might create. What metaphors we could conceive, what the narrative of our two bodies would become. I imagine the lines you would write over me, dripping ink on my back, my thighs, my calves, marking every part of me, trailing your
words beyond the edges of my skin like droplets of blood onto the white sheets. My body, nothing but a canvas of skin stretched over bone to return to ash too soon. Sprinkle my ashes under a tree; make it a cherry tree blooming in the spring, the pink petals floating through the air, raining down over the dark heads of two lovers kissing on a blanket. Let them stay happy.
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