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Or Pound, one of the Modernists who quote Ovid and Sir James Frazer
about equally as authorities. I remember a turn of the century London Attis
on incredibly cheap paper, found in Goodspeed's, thing Pound would look at
or translate I'd have bought if I cared for myth more than rebuilt like Xanadu.
Sen. Gorton will introduce a bill (applauded by the timber interests, whose lawyers framed it)
revising the Endangered Species Act so we can handle individual cases as they come up, birds,
second-growth salmon. I've been rereading Levertov's To Stay Alive and wonder where all
the poets against the Vietnam War went, once so caught up in the headiness of conflict.
Maxine Kumin writes about animals, and Gary Snyder on his island. Ginsberg urges us
in Harvard Magazine to eat less fatty foods. Till he died Merrill wrote about opera.
Greg Gibson, bookseller in Gloucester (home of Gorton-Pew, the cannery Olson's Maximus
describes working for, everybody's first job) published Olson's letters to the newspapers about
buildings torn down, all his favorite landmarks, logging folks the first to agree the land is ours
but as Frost says "before we were the land's," impromptu at Kennedy's inaugural, hair flying
in bright wind so well described by Robert Lowell. Berryman wrote about his lays, left
salmon alone. That generation drank, which is okay for writing poems about war.
Pound spent his energy revising currency (when not reviling Jews); I've missed
yet another seder at Arnold Falleder's, my last one Borden's in Baltimore, quite lovely.
Prayer at table over steaming salmon would be good, the salmon too stupid to pray, taste of dolphins
adulterating tuna still vivid on my palate. Von Stroheim buys an organgrinder's monkey
in Lady and the Monster to keep its brain alive, but I'd have George Zucco to play a timber baron, so
sleek, so bald and unctuously reasonable -- he once played Moriarty against Rathbone --
you have to give him what he wants, unthinkable he'd lose in that doublebreasted suit, "Owls?
there are no owls here." So we applaud Mr. Gorton and his funding, the will to cut
what are, after all, only trees. Trammell has a poem about fish in Viet bomb craters.
Smart and Blake, that corporation, wrote Prophetic Books, all Damozels blessed in their places placed.
Rossetti, a Poem in 12 Books, no way as in "Madeleine" around or through their view, apparently,
writers who drew heroes of a sort to me. Lichenstein handed me the bound pad of artists' sketches
acquired at comicbook conventions, asked me for one. I did him startled, beer spilling out of hand,
my vampire mole emerging from his television, omitting his cats because I haven't met them.
Jarva, Cocker Spaniel-Collie-Labrador-Boxer-something, squat shape weighing over a pound, skull
beautifully boned at six weeks, short hair, pointy tail, clamped jaws on a potato-plant leaf, pulled
(it came away), didn't like it, has fun chewing on the flesh between my thumb and index finger. Last Tuesday
drew Paulette and Power, great blues band, less ink than I thought in my Higgins bottle, diluted it with brandy,
staggered home. The bass player's son it happens draws, sax player's hair tied back a muted elephantine curve
to play against the oval of his horn's mouth. Today I looked at a freestanding copy
of the Goddess of Willendorf in our goddess shop, sienna-colored rocky base for her to stand up in,
David having sent me a drawing of her stippled, by R. Powers (Frameworks for Dating Fossil Man), says there's
a frightening one in a chair -- I looked, saw only what seems a miniature Cybele, the chair arms lion heads, as in
the monumental one in Boston, exuding power. Quatrale, now ill if still alive, liked to fit his thumbs
in the adjacent stone ram's head's eye sockets, urged me to try it, the thing nearly hums. Limestone, it says she is.
I recall Rameses' or someone's fist, reddish granite in the British Museum, the size of a small oven,
no more impressive than her tiny handful, my smaller version (cast bronze, verdigrised) a dog treat.
"The moon by night thee shall not smite, Nor yet the sun by day;" Daiches quotes
Stevenson as quoting, and this is not, as our Melville-trained ear deceives us, a
remark about smiting the sun but a psalm-charm against being moon-
smitten, a danger in Scotland as elsewhere, as Endymion also knew. Objects
can smite one, though the moon, as a radiating being, is not an object.
Light bulbs, kerosene wicks, candles are verbs. Even the colors are not nouns,
a white thing an object in spite of being white. Scholars seem agreed that
Greek color words describe intensity not tint, a black sail to them a kind of flag,
color of the Pythian seeress's charcoal in her cave itself an oracle. Shadow
loves color, drawing protuberant rose or amber toward shade, like a hand.

Copyright Gerald Burns 1995-1997

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