It seems that my desire to blog is inversely proportional to my psychological health. Again, I thank all who walked through the darkness with me, and as it were, held me up. Just the contact of comments could sometimes momentarily convince me I was human at my worst. It meant much.
I shall have to return to a different subject to keep writing, and the other main subject of my blog has been poetry. Yet in numerous published essays I have expressed myself to my own satisfaction on this subject, though even now I am involved in discussions/debates at various boards, most notably The Gazebo: Theory and Practice. In short, I am not inspired to write about poetry so much as to resume writing it.
I have been reading Charles Simic and e. e. cummings of late. Simic is a poet of substance, unable to attain the lyrical, as he did not emigrate to the U.S. until the age of 16 from Yugoslavia, in 1954 (under Tito's rule, I believe). Though a little choppy, his substance can be terrific.
Cummings is an amazing technician, a perfectionist. He wants an epiphany more than he wants to be understood, which I think admirable in its way. Some forget he was quite a master of the sonnet and think him indelibly Post-Modern. He was actually, by history and inclination, a Modern and compares favorably with Marianne Moore.
Here is the best poem, IMHO, from Poet Laureate Simic's selected volume of “Sixty Poems”:
What the Gypsies Told my Grandmother while She was Still a Young Girl
War, illness and famine will make you their favorite
You'll be like a blind person watching a silent movie.
You'll chop onions and pieces of your heart
into the same hot skillet.
Your children will sleep in a suitcase tied with a rope.
Your husband will kiss your breasts every night
as if they were two gravestones.
Already the crows are grooming themselves
for you and your people.
Your oldest son will lie with flies on his hips
without smiling or lifting his hand.
You'll envy every ant you meet in your life
and every roadside weed.
Your body and soul will sit on separate stoops
chewing the same piece of gum.
Little cutie, are you for sale? the devil will say.
The undertaker will buy a toy for your grandson.
Your mind will be a hornet's nest even on your
You will pray to God but God will hang a sign
that He's not to be disturbed.
Question no further, that's all I know.
Charles Simic, "Walking the Black Cat," copyright 1996 by Charles Simic. Harcourt Brace & Company. Used with permission.
I would be happy to write a poem this good once every two years. Or maybe once.
Simic's pre- and post-war childhood should be remembered as a historical context for this work, but it speaks for itself even without such knowledge.
Thine in Truth and Art,
C. E. Chaffin