“ARS POETICA” – ROQUE DALTON

Абрам Архипов, «Прачки», 1898.

“Anguish exists.

Man uses his old disasters as a mirror.

Barely an hour after dark
that man picks up the bitter scraps of his day
painfully places them next to his heart
and sweating like a consumptive who still hasn’t given up
sinks into his deep, lonely room.
Here, such a man chainsmokes
he concocts disastrous cobwebs on the ceiling
he loathes fresh flowers
his own asphyxiating skin exiles him
he stares at his cold feet
he believes his bed is his daily grave
his pockets are empty
he’s hungry
he sobs.

But those men, those other men,
gladly bare their chests to the sun
or to the murderers on the prowl
they lift the face of bread out of ovens
like a benevolent flag against hunger
they laugh so hard with the children even the air hurts
they fill with tiny footsteps the bellies of blessed women
they split rocks like stubborn fruit in their solemnity
naked they sing into the refreshing glass of water
they joke around with the sea playfully taking it by the horns
they build melodious houses of light in windswept wildernesses
like God they get drunk everywhere
they settle with their fists against despair

their avenging fires against crime
their love of unending roots
against the atrocious scythe of hatred.

Anguish exists, yes.

As does despair
crime
or hatred.

For whom shall the voice of the poet speak?”

– from a volume discarded by Mount Prospect Public Library.

Advertisements

“PATERSON” EXCERPT – WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS (1946)

(detail from “Four Visions of the Hereafter” (1505-1515) by Hieronymus Bosch)

from Paterson by William Carlos Williams (1946):

“We go on living, we permit ourselves
to continue—but certainly
not for the university, what they publish
severally or as a group: clerks
got out of hand forgetting for the most part
to whom they are beholden.

. . .

Who restricts knowledge? Some say
it is the decay of the middle class
making an impossible moat between the high
and the low where
the life once flourished . . knowledge
of the avenues of information—
So that we do not know (in time)
where the stasis lodges. And if it is not
the knowledgeable idiots, the university,
they at least are the non-purveyors
should be devising means
to leap the gap. Inlets? The outward
masks of the special interests
that perpetuate the stasis and make it
profitable.

They block the release
that should cleanse and assume
prerogatives as a private recompense.
Others are at fault because
they do nothing.”