Reality Show (song)

Nizhoniigo no hey nay
Nizhoniigo no hey way nay
Nizhoniigo no hey nay
Nizhoniigo no hey way nay

How do we get out of here?
Smoke hole crowded with too much thinking
Too many seers
and prophets of prosperity
We call it real.

What are we doing in this mess of forgetfulness?
Ruled by sharp things, baby girls in stiletto heels
Beloved ones doing street time
We call it real; we call it real.

What are we doing napping, through war?
We’ve lost our place in the order of kindness
Children are killing children
We call it real.

How do we get out of here?
Smoke hole crowded with too much thinking
Too many seers
and prophets of prosperity
We call it real.

What are we doing forgetting love?
Under mountains of trash, a river on fire
We can’t be bought, forced, or destroyed.
Just what is real?

How do we get out of here?
Smoke hole crowded with too much thinking
Too many seers
and prophets of prosperity
We call it real.

Nizhoniigo no hey nay
Nizhoniigo no hey way nay
Nizhoniigo no hey nay
Nizhoniigo no hey way nay

Joy HarjoConflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems, Pg 25-26

Fall Song

It is a dark fall day.
The earth is slightly damp with rain.
I hear a jay.
The cry is blue.
I have found you in the story again.
Is there another word for “divine”?
I need a song that will keep the sky open in my mind.
If I think behind me, I might break.
If I think forward, I lose now.
Forever will be a day like this.
Strung perfectly on the necklace of days.
Slightly overcast
Yellow leaves
Your jacket hanging in the hallway
Next to mine.

Joy HarjoConflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems, Pg. 133

Walter Hooper on Lewis’ Verse

The fact that he did not publish these poems during his lifetime  suggests that Lewis was hesitant about their publication. He knew his poems were very unlike most contemporary verse. Because of this, he could not be certain of the reaction of his readers. The answer is not far to seek. In the poem, ‘A Confession’, Lewis says with ironical disappointment:

I am so coarse, the things the poets see
Are entirely invisible to me.
For twenty years I’ve stared my level best
To see if evening—any evening—would suggest
A patient etherized upon a table;
In vain. I simply wasn’t able.

Lewis found Mr. Eliot’s comparison of an evening to a patient on an operating table unpleasant, one example of the decay of proper feelings. He mistrusted, in fact, the free play of mere immediate experience. He believed, rather, that man’s attitudes and actions should be governed by, what he calls in the same poem, Stock Responses (e.g. love is sweet, death bitter, and virtue lovely). Man must, for his own safety and pleasure, be taught to copy the Stock Responses in hopes that he may, by willed imitation, make the proper responses. He found this perfectly summed up in Aristotle’s ‘We learn how to do things by doing the things we are learning to do’. This concern is expressed, directly or indirectly, in almost all of Lewis’ books,  but most clearly in his defence of Milton’s style (A Preface to ‘Paradise Lost’, Ch. VIII). His belief that poetry did not need to be eccentric to enrich a response and of ‘being normal without being vulgar’, one of the characteristics which distinguish him from many contemporary poets, made him think he might be classed as an Angry Old Man. If so, he concluded that he was much less angry with things in general than are the Young Men, and having perhaps the better claim to Age than some do to Youth.

–Walter Hooper, Oxford, 1964, Preface to Poems by C.S. Lewis

Symbolon

“The English world ‘symbol’ is the Greek word symbolon which means, in the ancient world, one half of a knucklebone carried as a token of identity to someone who has the other half. Together the two halves compose one meaning. A metaphor is a species of symbol. So is a lover.”

–Anne Carson

“Each one of us is but the symbolon of a human being—sliced in half like a flatfish, two instead of one —and each pursues a neverending search for the symbolon of himself.”

–Aristophones in Plato’s Symposium

[See Edward Hirsch, How to Read a Poem and Fall In Love with Poetry, pg 260.]

Postcard 4

I fell next to him. His body rolled over.
It was tight as a string before it snaps.
Shot in the back of the head—”This is how
you’ll end.” “Just lie quietly,” I said to myself.
Patience flowers into death now.
“Der springt noch auf,” I heard above me.
Dark filthy blood was drying on my ear.

–Miklós Radnóti, Szentkirályszabadja, October 31, 1944, Translated by Steven Polgar, Stephen Berg, & S. J. Marks
Continue reading “Postcard 4”

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hours we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light’s delay.
     With witness I speak this. But where I say
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.

     I am gall, I am heartburn. God’s most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
     Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.