Perisystole

Between the lines
I dangle in the air
as if on tines:
rationale hung by a hair: 
a fish on a trident,
in a pause
spanning a heartfelt moment: 
wondering at the cause
and dreading the effect
of those lines — 
perfect,
by all inkdeep signs.

Since when do poets hover 
between paper and poised pen — 
those incestuous lovers — 
to think of the children,
to question his heart?
 — That nether region 
wherein raw art
is emotion,
simple and pure:
like the urge to kill: 
now called upon to cure 
the ill —

True.
But the exercise
has more to do
with trying to exorcise 
a personal quirk — 
through creative 
labor (yes, work!) 
that is unconstructive: 
the less utility,
the more
purity
being the score.

— Good thing, too. 
It will reach
few
and teach
next to naught:
substance overshadowed by style,
theory sans thought: 
nice and sterile.

No reason, then, to fret 
over influence — 
it will beget
nothing of consequence.

Ah, yes, beauty — 
that unspeakable tragedy,
the unbearable:
the hunted prey; 
the seal that stunts; 
the forking way;
and the brunt 
that is worn 
like gloss — 
that is borne 
like a cross.

And yes, this hairshirt 
is wooed
despite its hurt; 
yes, it is pursued
to a bad end — 
and the final yardstick
on which people depend
is the vulgar public
and the heat of the bonfire: 
to be consumed by flames: 
to be born on the pyre:
to be denied one’s claim.

But what madness 
to suppose
the likeness
of a rose
can make it pale: 
what conceit!
to assail
with the counterfeit 
life and its stuff:
to dream
a fading ripple is enough 
to dwarf the stream.

I could swear
I sought no fame:
to mar beyond repair
with a name
that rockface
so long in coming forth:
to erase the trace
of worth
that is its (and my) future
for some vanished elf,
some Siren’s lure — 
how else perpetuate myself?

Enough! At least
I fathom
the beauty of the beast
and the world of the atom — 
and I don’t displace
much that’s green or original,
I don’t take up space
with stone memorials:
what is penned
seldom leaves the pages — 
unread, unopened,
it gathers dust through the ages.