Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dialogue Between a Past and Present Poet

Past poet, present poet. Left shoe, right shoe.

Past Poet
I wrote of roses on a woman's breast,
Glowing as though her blood
Had welled out to a spellbound fierceness;
And the glad, light mixture of her hair.
I wrote of God and angels.
They stole the simple blush of my desire
To make their isolated triumph human.
Knights and kings flooded my song,
Catching with their glittering clash
The unheard boldness in my life.
Gods and nymphs slipped through my voice,
And with the lofty scurrying of their feet
Spurned the smirched angers of my days.

Present Poet
You raised an unhurried, church-like escape.
You lingered in shimmering idleness;
Or lengthened a prayer into a lance;
Or strengthened a thought till it heaved off all of life
And dropped its sightless heaven into your smile.
Life, to us, is a colourless tangle.
Like madly gorgeous weavers
Our eyes reiterate themselves on life.

Past Poet
My towering simplicity
Loosening an evening of belief
Over the things it dared not view,
Gladly shunned reality
Just as your mad weaver does.

Present Poet
Reality is a formless lure,
And only when we know this
Do we dare to be unreal.


— Maxwell Bodenheim


Born this day in 1892, Maxwell Bodenheim — The King of Greenwich Village Bohemians — first gained fame and notoriety in Chicago at the Dill Pickle Club before moving to New York City in the 1920s. The poet Robert Frost dismissed Bodenheim as a "tramp poet."

Bogie, as he was also known, published ten volumes of poetry and a dozen novels in between arrests for vagrancy and drunkenness. He was murdered in a Bowery flophouse in 1954 along with his third wife Ruth.