Saturday, September 24, 2016

The New Phorcydes

                                     τυρὸς δ᾽ οὐ λείπει μ᾽ οὔτ᾽ ἐν θέρει οὔτ᾽ ἐν ὀπώρᾳ,
                                     ὐ χειμῶνος ἄκρω: ταρσοὶ δ᾽ ὑπεραχθέες αἰεί.*

You sit in a hall
of columns and arcades
sunlight streaming
from an open garden
to one side.

Close an eye.

You no longer sit
in a hall, now become
but a point of view.

So the world of photographs
and film and video and cell-phone

half of you disappears
and the other half becomes Cyclops
and shares the world with others
as the Graeae share one tooth and one eye.

Aye, pass the tooth, please,
smile and blindly have at Cyclopean cheese.

E. A. Costa

E. A. Costa  September 24, 2016  Granada, Nicaragua
N.B.:*Theocritus , Idylls. 11.36"I never lack cheese, Summer or
Fall, and even in the dead of Winter--the  racks are always

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Lay From The Cleopatra Planet

                                Érase un espolón de una galera,
                                érase una piramide de Egito... .
                                                  Francisco de Quevedo

                            Le nez de Cléopâtre, s'il eût été plus court,

                                  toute la face de la terre aurait changé.

                                                    Blaise Pascal

A woman without a nose
is a missing person
disappeared without a trace

is a firetruck without a hose

is a bust without a face

is hair without a trigger

(the bigger the better)

like a starter's pistol
setting off a hundred yard dash

up or down doesn't matter

let it match
or let it clash

let it fly
or let it crash

let it angle heavenward
let it wink in orbit
let it soar on flapping wings
surveying the netherlands below
let it be waterproof
let it be absorbent

let it dangle
let it honk
let it sneeze
let it be an Amazon of olfaction

let it be numb
let it be smooth
let it be sensitive and hairy
let it be in traction

let it be a pendulum swinging with every nod

let it be even

let it be odd

let it have a headache
let it be the wrong time of the week or month or year

let it be a real pain in the ass
let it be a dear

forget Trista
sister of Mr. Shandy

let it be a dandy

let it be Cleopatra's
rowing with Antony or Caesar

let be a booted daughter of Sinatra's

call it
beauty or beauty spot
just let it be a lot.

E. A. Costa

E. A. Costa   September 13,  2016       Granada, Nicaragua

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Humpty Dumpty Or: Maestría poética ( A Lucianesque)

A: It is merely a matter of deciding who is master, poem or poet.

B: That sounds a bit Humpty Dumpty.

A: Do you mean upside-down or are you referring to Alice?

B: Upside down—isn't that Topsy Turvy? But I refer to Alice of course and her Humpty Dumpty--"When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." 

A: You approve what was said, then—clearly the poem is master.

B: Approve? How do you come to that conclusion? Alice's Humpty claims complete mastery of the meaning of  language. How does that translate into supporting what was said--that the poem is the master of the poet and not the other way round?

A: My dear fellow, you are widely read but you seem to pay very little attention to what you read.

B: How is that?

A: Who is Humpty Dumpty?

B: I don't follow.

A: Of course, you don't. You don't ask the right questions.

B: Who is Humpty Dumpty then?

A: Humpty Dumpty is a nursery rhyme, thus a poetic form, thus a poem and is in complete mastery of all surveyed.

B: Including the poet who composed the rhyme, whoever that may have been?

A: Yes, but the composer may not have been a poet in the first place. Indeed, probably wasn't.

B: You seem to be saying that Humpty Dumpty composed some anonymous poet, not the reverse.

A: In a way, yes. But you beg the question. The authorship of the rhyme is completely unknown. Or do you prefer a goose?

B: Well, certainly the rhyme did not compose itself, did it?

A: No, but that is not the same as saying that the rhyme is master of the author or authors, whoever that may have been. Authorship is completely inconsequential.

B: I don't follow.

A: Of course not. As was said, you don't ask the right questions.

B: Let me ask—does this seemingly topsy-turvy view apply to more than poetry? To film or not, for example?

A: Sometimes.

B: Sometimes?

A: If the director is considered the main author of a film, with great films it is clearly the film who is master, not the director.

B: Are you serious?

A: Of course.

B: An example please.

A: That is easy—Carol Reed's The Third Man. Is there really any doubt that inarguably great film is master of a competent if otherwise undistinguished director and not the reverse.

B: That is intriguing. Orson Welles was in that film.

A: At least as much in the breach as in the observance. He is not onscreen at all for more than half the film as I recall.

B: Be that as it may—would you say the same about Welles' own Citizen Kane?

A: It almost goes without saying. Welles knew when and how to be mastered. In the making of The Third Man perhaps he was contagious. But this is a distraction. The subject is poetic mastery, not film mastery.

B: And?

A: You are well read. Have you read much ancient poetry—ancient Greek poetry for example? Homer?

B: A bit of Homer of course--in translation.

A: Translation is often a problem. But let me do the asking in regard to Homer and other ancients.

B: Yes?

A: Is there recorded any instance among the Greeks in which the Muse calls on the poet rather than the poet upon the Muse?

B: Muses now—what nonsense is this? Next you will be counting Beatrice or Virgil or The Divine Comedy itself the master of Dante and not the reverse.

A: Naturally. By the way, have you ever asked yourself why it is called “Comedy”? Bocaccio added the "Divina."

B: No. What a strange question.

A: And also by the way, why do you fall into thinking Humpty Dumpty masculine? It was an egg after all, wasn't it?

B: Even stranger and more Humpty Dumpty.  May I ask who is Alice?

A: Alice, it again almost goes without saying, is prose in conversation with poetry, that is, Humpty Dumpty.

B: Ah, then--an allegory?

A: May I remind you, dear fellow, that Lewis Carroll was weaned on Pilgrim's Progress?  Through The Looking Glass might be considered a comic version--or even a mirror image. Something, say, that might dream up a Christian mathematician.

B: Thoroughly new and intriguing. One has never heard or thought any of that.

A: I rest my case.

E. A. Costa   September 11, 2016   Granada, Nicaragua