(*i.e., composed since the publication ofthe current edition [Ed. 9.1.22] of Collected Poems)
How to Make a Masterpiece
The Curious Business of How ArtworksMake their Way, or Don’t, to Accession byPOSTERITY’S MUSEUMContemplating the Twin Mysteries ofUndervalued Masterpieces (Such as Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito)andBest-Selling Bunkum (Such as Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code)For My Savvy Fellow Skeptic of the Lasting Value of FameMy Carol Lynn
Take any work of art and get it known.To rouse your public’s hunger for it, findIn it the savored “spiritual” toneThat’s palatable to the deepest mind.Because it’s art, you can’t be “wrong,” per se;Just early—yes, prophetic of a moreEnlightened time in which to best betraySuch truths we aren’t quite yet ready for.But since this all depends, at last, on TASTE,Which is a thing that can’t be trained outsideOf some tradition, what’s called “good” is basedOn what your famous critics will decide.And this turns less upon an expert’s hunchThan on the likelihood he’d had his lunch.
A Meditation on Our HistoricUnderappreciation of the Achievements of WomenInspired by the Inexplicable Critical Silence AttendingThe Sublime Violin Sonata of Amy Beach
The romance of the “masterpiece” prefersThat it’s conceived against adversity,Or else by him on whom the connoisseurs,By some such means, are able to agree.But have some woman, who’s kept out beyondThis clique, attempt a thing that men had madeSo well, admission to this pantheonCan prove…complex…or, at the least, delayed.So, when some Yankee housewife comes and writesThe greatest violin sonata writ,One winces to explain, by one’s best lights,Why such is so unlikely to admit.For, after all, a “magnum opus” isA thing an artist’s culture sees as…his.
An Antidote to Philip Larkin’s “Talking in Bed”For My Refreshingly Communicative Pillow PartnerMy Carol LynnOn Valentine’s Day 2023
There is a place we go within our loveWhere we can share those satisfactions foundIn sensual delight, yet well aboveThe pleasures of the sheets we’d strewn around.It is our pillow’s refuge we ascendOnce sated, bathed in that hormonal glueThat binds good feelings into covenantsOf trust and care, till reinforced anew.Yes, here’s where we return from out our loneAttempts to meet our deepest need—to feelWe matter—and but reconnect, full proneIn naked truth, untempted to conceal,Exploring all we want in that warm glowThat only intimacy can bestow.
An Appreciation of Consummate LoveFor My Carol Lynn
To fall in love, as we had done way backWithin obsession’s plunge from reasoned calm,Is to surrender something—say a lackWe want filled up to satisfy a qualm.But when, through time, those hormones ebb, alongWith all the desperate idealizings they’dInflamed, what’s risen in their place, so strongAnd steady, is this bond commitment laid.Yet, this can’t hold unless we’re each completeWithin ourselves—that we can give withoutOur really only feeding our own need—Like more acknowledgement to slake more doubts.Thus, we’re most satisfied, not when we fallBut rise in love—above what might enthrall.
To a Great Artist of RecallFor My Carol LynnMy Inspired Morning RaconteuseOf the Fabulous Night-Time WorldOf Dream Mentation
O sibyl, seer, chronicler of night’sPhantasmagoria! Regale me moreWith your great artworks of thin air, your flightsOf combination viewed from daybreak’s shore.While all of us are artists in our sleep,Concocting narratives of how we feelWithin those metaphors we live and keep,Who else but you describes them quite so real?For you, my love, can share in such detailThose bold new worlds conjured up from oldConcerns, that I can follow it in scaleAnd revel in minutiae’s every fold.In you the night-time artist doesn’t fadeCome dawn, but revels in the magic made.