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PROSE POEM by Charles Baudelaire

Baudelaire wanted why did Baudelaire want what (the WH, as in Mr WH, admissible "here" if not imagined as "place" in an argument, otherwise as pathetic as a tethered burro) was that it was, was intervals between meeting Jeanne, in which what he might say if her intelligence (which was there) were not stultified by lust. Thinking on the stairs he'd go back, as in grade school he may, ink fingers cuffs, to "points" he'd make to air, no Master there, so it was the same in him (wasn't it? isn't it?) to be "going" up and down, forgetting because in this milieu of debate, telling point, his mistress Barbara Celarent. He was used to this grain in the atmosphere, as if nondramatic life were aquatint. It's what he liked in painters, those he could accept (free of Cézanne, Manet) that they'd render (derange this word till you get to rondure), which means alter, what they find. Consider Picasso, jealous with not to be acknowledged hatred of Lautrec, Pissarro (whom he'd think lacked verve, or flair) because Picasso was too late to admire solid furniture, hence the drawings translating a la Guggenheim into air, wire in the air, the bulk without solidity, his Roman matrons solid without bulk (any writing problem can be solved with painters for examples), Picasso fronting the wee spoon for the sugar over which you pour, see, Pernod, that he couldn't see and knew he couldn't see because Manet and Co. had been there, rendered it like a railway guide, and so he clowns his way out of it, in a small bronze extant in several versions, the glass, sugar cube balanced on the (real) spoon, all pastel, polka-dot, to conceal in some whoopee-cushion sound that it was the glass he couldn't make real, exhibiting this in metal in which, by contrast to modeled surface, only the spoon looks fake. Very well, Baudelaire, sees the fact of successful rendering (and for this Bouguereau's as good as Cézanne) all you need is to sink everything in a common air, see, like the grain on the mood on the stairs coming from his "black" mistress Jeanne (see Manet's quick study of her, all crinoline on a sofa like the most vulgar rose, White Lightnin' with a naked Jeanne inside, how nice, how thoroughly un-middleclass, she the sugar cube in Charles's spoon, the u in everybody's name, Edouard, Puvis pronounced Pubis), that this mood, like sugar grains temporarily fusée, must be everything, so you write a prose poem good as Chat Noir by Edgur Allun Poe, whom we knew . . . See, it isn't done with wires at all, not even crinolines. Establish a tone. If you're writing theory, a tone. Never break it, and there's no question of breaking out of it. Any world is self-contained. Any phone book is a poem. Any Jeanne admires me for being able to say her name as if a world existed of which she is a part. Crinoline is no defense when poets write in prose.


Copyright 1993 by Gerald Burns