To Walt Whitman et al.                      

(In Memoriam: Edgar J. Beall, 1907-1986)                

 

At age fifty I discovered you, Walt,

one day in your fleeting heir Ginsberg, and went

to look up the original. I was moved, for you see,

I was not born in a house from parents the same from their parents the same.

List to the tale of a nomad,

a refugee from postmodern

movements, a stranger to static

except as a word: interference

in the onward march of the world.

And you see,

to me infinity looks still move different

than the view from Paumanok, more than to him,

your heir, bright Hart (though striking was the sight

of Hatteras: the Wrights began this ride).

Our powers tried, though out of place, from stars:

A shuttle sacrifice or two, and Mars,

old polemarchos, warlord out in space,

is just a fuel tank away. Mushrooming

brilliance, unsurpassed, darkens as atomos,

uncuttable, well harnessed, becomes a shred.

Eternally, our best now speak of half-lives;

thus tortured words communicate a dread.

So Walt, while

you are the woodsman chopping, the slave laboring, the woman bearing,

I am words jumping,

trying to be free,

 

 

although from keyboards I land in microcircuits.

While I am indeed anxious of your influence

(Eliot went to England to elude you, but is haunted:

your lilacs live in critics minds through his love of winter;

your thrust of soothing death tells him and them of eternity),

what I fear most is telling of touch-tone Visa Card theater tickets,

to be bard of bills for bed and breakfast,

the poet of input and output.

While Ive been Beethoven and Einstein, Russell and Sartre,

and Hesiod and Uddālaka, Diane Kurys and Gārgī Vācaknavī, Hurricane Carter and

Leonard Peltier,

and even the hotshot establishment professor eating yogurt to be hip

(you are the America of Emerson and Thoreau, and I add Werner Herzog and

Peter Weir),

while you are large and Id be larger, Id have to

supersede the cybernetic

 

 

and also disengage from deconstruction. For Walt,

although through Ginsberg you see the best minds of his generation bombed out

looking for angry fixes in Black people streets, getting expelled for

crazy and obscene odes on skull windows, etcetera,

the best of mind explode seeking the universe in language.

Like you I would only express the universe with this much-discussed marvel,

but I pay the price of rebellions from other rebellions the same from other

rebellions the same.

Though the acme of things accomplished and encloser of things to come, you

could not know

that you thus enclose Scrabble and anachrostics and newlyweds from Nebraska

putting tri-colored letters into vidiotic tic-tac-toes for new cars and

vacations in Hawaii,

that your English medium supports learned discussions of universal phonetics,

deep structure generative grammar, allegories of reading, and four full

books on different phases of archaic Chinese,

that somewhere a cottage industry finds optimum-sounding terms, for officials

to pronounce fear of nuclear war phobic, Cambodia 1970 an incursion,

Libya 1986 minimal collateral damage,

and that anyone now desiring reputation in matters of wor4d must be the apex

of apices named all of the above and more, plus a certain French neologism

which one can see written everywhere (but can never hear spoken) and which

is claimed to underlie not only metaphysics but Being itself.

 

 

Oh dead father I hardly knew,

the lilacs sprouting over your grave

shall still renew me every spring.

I, the hermit thrush,

tongue rent by academes scalpel, and taught

to make monotone positivist information bits,

shall still take up the lyre and sing.

 

 

For phobic incursions of the hawk whod make

that accusation, barbaric yawp, now wreck

all words and more, surpassing savagery.

No use to sing; Ill dine wheneer I will.

So spoke old ōkupetēs, tanusipteros,

impaling the piteous nightingale; and now,

flying much faster, wings stretched yet further,

chasing the thrush of fate, the Falcon Ace

interprets the infinite Sanskrit charge

to conquer Krishnas dialectic too,

to silence debates on trees in philosophy

(no more to fall in forests primeval, nor mental),

to transcend thee at last, O soul repressless,

and thy Time and Space, thy wondrous God and Nature,

with peace through strength, and mutually assured destruction

(once wavewhite wedded words stammering

toward divorce, wide tidetorn world dimming,

all breaking down to quarks, forever black),

to put an end to death once and for all

by ending life.

 

 

The Asian sparrow, scared in its bush,

and other subspecies far and wide,

hope for paradise through pacts -- but I

yodel with newlyweds from Nebraska at the gatherings of the avant-garde

(not for their casual evenings entertainment we seek out their seminars,

their committee meetings, their teas for visiting deans),

and I tear up touch-tone tickets to raffle of the Visa Cards of princess

phone designers,

and I input the output to Lilliput

(tying down the Brobdignagian word processor manufacturers with chains made

from unraveled microcircuits),

and I teach universal phonetics to archaic Chinese,

and I chant at rallies to put the e back into différance now!

(de-signifying insignificants with their signs denying signifier and signified),

and I sic CPAs with IBMs onto YUPs who turn acronyms into anachronisms,

and I flunk computerized lit profs for attributing bad poems to Shakespeare

(and recite the Bhagavadgītā in Sanskrit to Greek scholars for not giving

translations,

and forcefeed boiled grammar school arithmetic books to scientists for speaking

only in algebraic topology,

and make philosophers write the hieroglyphics for both on the blackboard 100

times for saying art is a language but forgetting language is an art),

and I angrily fix the crazy obscene skulls who expel me

(spiking their yogurt with Mexican hot sauce),

and In minimize the collateral of officials who damage

(quizzing chauvinists on Chaucers pronunciation for making English the

official language of Latino communities),

and I hum hymns of Crispus Attucks,

oh so sweetly,

to defeated white Republicans crying reverse racism.

 

 

Beloved Earth

sprouts up in spring, is greened anew,

once again once again .

Thus I sing with grace; the thrush

may yet win the race.

Such is life, born from death of the same, born from the same;

may yet all my fathers rest in peace.

 

 

(11/86)                     

 

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