Category: Philosophy


Fortune One

let’s make a corporate baby
white collar sex crime to
become Gods of limited liability,
conceptual artist creators

launch a Kickstarter campaign
to attract early angel investors
book him his own reality show
with a recurring cast of characters

imagine a secret R&D department
Google’s gonna solve death
but who’s covering life
in 24/7 high def wish fulfillment

he’ll command the stage with all
the rights & privileges of a real boy
Enron asks us: ‘Why, asshole?’
to explore what it feels like

(from the inside) to be wealthy,
entitled, and largely immune,
reliving every boy’s wet dream:
to be the King of Versailles

join the nouveau-riche yacht club
arrive in style in a Embraer Phenom 300
he’ll be the top of his Ivy league class in a
burgeoning (oc)cult of accumulation

we’ll reenact hostile takeovers of legend
(exotic dancers will party at the mansion)
he’ll cum on fraud-laden, creative,
quarterly reports until he just can’t do it anymore

sparking corporate espionage in far-away places
off shore accounts to sink a nation
(all in the name of performance art)
super star risk takers of global proportions

The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

I speak now to the audience in your head
not the voice that reads this line
(nor the voice that speaks alongside it)
but instead to the part of you
that observes the voice,
(hush now)
watch the unfolding theater:

here is an excursion of the artist into war
from the safety of the mind’s constructs
(you will not have to take a stance)
so you, the observer,
have assurances
double indemnity

Pina choreographs the performers
writhing masterfully among the corpses
wrap flesh around their toes
to raise on point
(incongruous)

upon a beach invaded
by the long dead
(whale song)
marching to the sacred shrine
(come away)
the listening shores rebound

hand-held spotlight illuminates
an iron triangle against the
politics of a graffiti sky
jagged edges slice the dancers
(to operatic pleas)

she stands alone
undulating arms
(come away)
frenetic, kinetic shapes
haunt in liminal space
(collapsing)
consume your ideas,
bury your children

confront the psychology of obstacles
strewn across a room within a world,
a café, a memory, a drama
(inextricable motion)
painting your psyche,
(behind the fourth wall)

bid the virtues,
bid the graces
(come)
daughters of art

cry your overflowing river of dust
a rite of spring granting muddied feet
to reclaim the earth of this stage

incursions into our perspectives
wormholes to exquisite pain
(as I write to you)
of this excursion
of the artist
into war

we close the door (castaways)
seaweed tossed by the storm
mimicking the dance
emotive intensity whirls
in the roar

violent intent permeates Nature,
from whom we learn not
seeing with closed eyes

you hear my voice, your voice,
the observer draws horrific pictures
for your inner sight
you travel, exploring this interior
view of war

at a remove that fans out
like a house of mirrors
dancers mime

(terror)

(exhaustion)

(bloodlust)

death

Pina Bausch

Pina Bausch 1940-2009

There I Met a Storm

she turns the emperor on his head
as the sun penetrates the forest canopy
I listen for the sounds
wild reparations offered for all the blood

scanning for (in situ) signs of life
a heartbeat pumping in searing words
brazenly on a hot pressed page
wood transmuted, only resurrected with her name

surface so smooth that everything slides
liquid nitrogen cooled tongues
slipping from cottonmouths
stained only by washes
of colorful trauma

mineral night rising, a phosphorescent outcry
burning chemical fire layer by layer
until our skin becomes as
ineffectual as the paper
she wrote the truth upon

hush imbued atmosphere descends,
a pernicious intent
poet tells me, ‘every angel is awful’
not mine, lord,
not mine

I saw her at the dawning
and in the glimmer of his oceanic love
her joy lighting candles
in the holy of holies
that day I stood in the temple
in the land of the sandsky
(where I never could have entered before)

murmuring supplications
with an apotropaic wand
against the inevitable dark

secret cinematic sounds delivered
in the tone of teenage apathy
Video Games plays in the acoustic hollow
of a phoenix’s breastbone
an echoic pleading
one skin to another

I held her in the birthing
and in the slow murder of life
in her incandescent light, her
dénouement, her breath infusing
my own, whispering paeans,
singing sighs

Notes: Every Angel is Awful is a book by the French poet, Martine Broda and Video Games is a song by Lana Del Rey.

Acrylic on paper 2005 Anna Chamberlain, poetry 2013

Acrylic on paper 2005 Anna Chamberlain, poetry 2013

Frank O'Hara 1926-1966 by Grace Hartigan

Frank O’Hara 1926-1966 by Grace Hartigan

Frank O’Hara says to Grace Hartigan
‘I do not always know what I am feeling.’
(but in For Grace, After a Party
it will become about you)

spouting a poetry of indeterminacy
as he builds his identity,
a compulsion of artistry accusing
her of the betrayal of figuration

pure abstraction was required to
invent a self-referential language,
to find the convincing limits of the self
she asserted the definitive line
in his elegy in paint, Frank O’Hara, 1926-1966

now imagine the Abstract Expressionists
on Facebook, drunken missives
of fluid modernity existing within
the persistent lateral surveillance of decorum

gorging on sycophants sexting naked pictures
from the front facing cameras of smartphones
deKooning’s women couched in
an art of internalized misogyny

in this iDubai world of conspicuous
consumption, anything can be a commodity,
masquerade as a pretense or solipsistic dissolution
accompanied by a string orchestration
to score a cinematic self-expression

all devolves into projection and reflection
tactical apologues in the life of the mind
code-talker paradox a side effect
in a cyber-context devoid of meaning
simultaneously blocking and enabling communication
digital age where we cannot make marks
that depress the paper, only unembossed gloss

we’re so far from the sumptuous feasts
debauched scenes and willful obscurities
of Lycophron’s Alexandra, offering instead
staid symposia and motivational speeches
forgetting the orgiastic origins
and slave owning of the intelligentsia

Plato was the first literary dandy
explicating the joys of exploitation
revived by the Queen of Versailles
time share dream pushers building
90,000 square feet of opulence because they can
suing the filmmakers for life story rights

we bleat mutilated themes like Adele anthems
(registering attempts at emoting)
obsessive tracks running on elliptical trainers
to avoid over-hyped terrorist psychosis

virtualization is an act of fallacious connection
Time polls reiterate being rich will make you happy
performance art in the social hierarchy undermining
Rich’s dream of a common language

private and public merged
process and product revealed
so that the art and artist are one
unheeding the warning signs
Pollock’s unveiling killed him because
he knew the falsehood he stood upon
(cigarette butts and ejaculate
embedded in house paint)

how could we not continuously turn
to the melodic tones of dancing limbs?
pregnant looks, throwbacks to lover’s songs
ingestions of longing, You Belong to Me
melds into Make You Feel My Love

both speak intensely of possession,
of an invented and distorted humanity,
at the edge of thought as it becomes volition
or fades into the void, a gnat’s worth of life energy
in the storied American pursuit of happiness

Putrefaction plié

Dancing with death

dancing with death

exabyte choruses of jumbled debris
detritus and hubris, humility and dignity
Mao’s last dancer lifting Pol Pot corpses
in a ballet of ideologies as
art crumbles into propaganda

song lyrics and lyrical nightmares
conspire to create vistas of twisted
surrealist mindscapes, beautiful disease
even Charles and Ray fell prey
in a day/night haze of stalled flight

Isaiah Berlin argues value pluralism
beating a drum in honor of human tragedy
young pioneers of socialist realism dancing
immortalized with graphic clarity
denouncing enemies of the state
of a unified ego / positive freedom
collapses under the weight of oppression

a conscious self-mastery schoolmistress
raps her knuckles in the theater of mind/war
constructing corrective labor camps for the
multiplicity which refuses to comply with
posted slogans knowing the flogging will
continue until morale improves

an undecayable, sainted body
arises in a self-perpetuating
cult of personality,
becomes the god
birthing scribes who

indoctrinate the newly formed history
solidify the moral superiority
of the family of origin
in an attempt to root out the shame
of a peasant, anti-intellectual upbringing

there’s no escape
from the fatherland
cellular memories,
spinning ballerina delusions,
brought about by behavioral epigenetics
while vertigo overwhelms the
perpetually still dancer

ars poetica, a seduction of lexical lists
mélange unmoored from belonging
pulse thrum in the anechoic room

how will we find purity amidst semantic noise;
the salve of metalanguage in a sea of allusions?

language transfers mental content
(words are containers)
speakers eject thought into an external space
(in this way language is reified)

‘a poem should not mean but be’

positing a fantasia,
a condition of meaningfulness –
unfurling with the cosmic significance
of a blue lotus blooming improbably
at the base of a Bodhi tree

cartographic games of death,
hybrid experiments that assuage
our fear of floating into the void

-or-

a terribly human snow angel
sculpted and melting, transfigured
to cloud and stream

whispering Rilke’s empty freedom
attained by seeking what’s beyond
a treatise of identity,
Hillman’s String Theory Sutra

(this poem has a mimetic twin
that plays arias in another dimension
through a telekinetic gramophone)

where, a reader may ask, does virtue lie?

Dickens’ acuity akin to the Delphic Oracle unsettles
telescopic vision reveals Bishop’s calculated descriptors
alongside Ashbery’s nuanced reflection:
convex mirror distorting the ruminating Self

(my face imprints the air within a breath of yours)

Carson’s accordion of grief,
a Sanskrit obituary contrasting handwritten notes
each word translated to illuminate a place
where no light is permitted

we poets enact a query
demonstrating the fragility
of the sacred phoenix’s flight

philosophical conceits drown
in a tidal wave of lyricism
roaring, irremediable, shifting selves
litter an infinite shore

(we build cairns for those without name,
stone markers in the sand)

Figuration

van Gogh paints stars on the interior of a hadron collider,
excitation modes divining the luminous day of the psyche,
ebullience of the creative moment as comets seed the earth

kaleidoscopic supersymmetry unveils strange loops,
circumscribed by the calm intelligibility of science
model agnosticism engulfs with purifying fire

in the ascetic refuge of an enchanted forest, imaginarium of enlightenment,
crystalline structures of specificity hide the occlusions of the unconscious,
chaotic clouds of information growing exponentially

Usha’s bifurcated tongue spreads duality across the canvas of the mind
sand shifting at the garden’s gate, encoding cryptic messages,
erosive ablutions upon the glittering souls of the dead

across the deep shaded valley starling calls and falcon cries unite
imploding singularity awash in Dionysian pleasure amidst an Apollonian
atmosphere, contrasting Wittgenstein’s necessary silence

Huysum’s flowers scry an ecstatic love, impulses flashing
like jewel inlaid symbols of eternity, cartography of virtuosic ambiguity,
as Richter explicates tragic materiality or sublime interiority

within this vale of soul-making, temporal and inescapable,
poetry’s fountain, a thousand headed hydra, reanimates and reclaims
Renoir’s river runs as the round world spins, days end and the end begins

in this elusive and fragile bubble replete with elaborate honeybee dances
Magritte’s surreal apple exists in its listening room
immortally intoxicated with the mystic universe

Flora (detail from Primavera) Botticelli

Flora (detail from Primavera) Botticelli

Yea, in the very moment of possessing,
Surges the heat of lovers to and fro,
Restive, uncertain; and they cannot fix
On what to first enjoy with eyes and hands.
The parts they sought for or those they squeeze so tight
’*

Gentle western wind enamored of her purity
Caught swirling in a fury of passion
Overtaking the nymph of Elysian fields

Perianths cascading from her lips
Dew of heaven, conceived in the womb of earth
Meadows bloom with myriad colors where there was but one

Ephemeral four petal blue flower of alchemy, mystic rose
Eros embraced in the mandala of calyx and corolla
Only her scent remains

Insufflation of Spring’s promise
Bounty, beauty and union abound
Gifts of the goddess framing our pleasure

Notes: *From Of The Nature of Things, by [Titus Lucretius Carus] Lucretius (written in the 1st Century BC) Translator: William Ellery Leonard

snow sends fathomless missives to the ocean
frozen kisses that kindle love
and we become one

storms thunder and unleash rain
born from a mountain glacial lake
in the watery center of my being

across the distance I traverse to you
naturally responding to the power
of your gravitational pull

ebb and flow I travel and remain still
upon a rocky shoreline,
deep current and unending whole