There is a danger in promising magic - For those who first meet you may believe you capable of anything and you are taken at your words abra cadabra Watched closely with wonder wild imaginations on your shoulders supernatural expectations no man should ever be charged with ala kazam For when looking behind the curtain they notice all the wires trick stages and false boxes they recoil in their discovery hocus pocus And worse than all of this - Should you pull off the impossible some feat of great transformation you are dismissed as a hoax and can never disappear
“Writing is an incredibly messy process” - first creative writing teacher
Suppose Stalin was right—
that we are the engineers of human souls
and perhaps we write to construct
the minds of new men
Then after giants reach down
to lift us to heights we were unable to achieve
before rummaging through their lots
while learning foundational things
and after we’ve armed ourselves
with the subtlety of slant rhyme
escaping predictable assonance and quatrains
and after we have chosen our sides
in the waged wars of adjectives
and have defended our right
to exclaim more than once
and after the force of our enjambments
matches the anxiety in separated lines
whose words long to be near
and after our telling becomes showing
and images walk without crutch or brace
And then—being so raised by pedagogues—
will our works go on
to be factors for new engineers
in the building of souls
greater than our own?
“The production of souls is more important than the production of tanks… And therefore I raise my glass to you, writers, the engineers of the human soul”. – Joseph Stalin
soul falls short to find its feat
But tank: among the constellations!
Grounded men whimper retreat.
Quantify this soul in weight
or manufactured yielded net
against the whole of homeland’s fate
Defense is first, lest you forget.
Why head of state’s comparison
The marching souls, mere vile and rank
But tread of tracks to garrisons
The cannons flicker for our flank.
Mete out this soul with angles right
a follymath in reasoning
But tank, a quantity delight
Blitzkrieg on Kursk! Tiananmen!
And soul: absented, shorted, slight
better that cold flesh is the end
Behold the canon1 shouting light!
Walk into it, unshielded men.
1the use of canon is intentional here.
Upon a single sliding slate
The only moving thing
Was a white hand across the blackboard.
I was uninitiated
Like a chalk
Before first touch of a blackboard
I do not know which to worship
The god of the Waste Land
Or the god of the Wheel Barrow
The blackboard’s polytheism
Or the heresy of neither.
A professor and a poet
A professor and a poet and a blackboard
O pedagogue of Academe
Why do you wrest gods from the heavens?
Do you not see how the blackboard
Fails to capture their glory
For the unlearned amongst us?
Class must be starting.
Blackboard is being erased.
We resolved that evening was afternoon
It was time
And it was going to be time.
The blackboard held
The gods in their places.
I hung my coat up
I slowly strolled up
I cleared my throat up
Now if the words would flow up
Gravity is a law, that’s clear.
I know we’ve slowed up
and it’s time I grow up
But you can barely hold up
The hands you’ve thrown up
‘Cause gravity is a law, my dear.
Your eyes all welled up
round the frames we’ve nailed up
Our bodies shelled up
from the guns we held up
Gravity is a law, that’s clear.
Memories in the line up
so you’ve made your mind up
on this hill we climbed up
One way this winds up
Gravity is a law, I fear.