Hester L. Furey
Three Theories of Art
“The words of a dead man / Are modified in the guts of the living.” W.H. Auden, “In Memory of W.B. Yeats”
Skeleton Woman doesn’t know how
the chancellor could say
“poetry makes nothing happen.”
Bad poetry caused the Red Scares, the World Wars
– every war, come to that – chased her
across the country and back, packed up
her entire house, moved her into town
to a goldfish bowl in a shotgun house
four blocks from the train.
She believes three theories at once.
Poetry as a language that enables us
to process and possibly share inward life.
Art, as the anarchists said, the excrement
of process. A fossil record of emotion once present.
Or, as Grosz said, generative chaos, the angel
we must wrestle; structure the demon who tempts.
Worming their way into our psyches, they
perform magic dances of presence and absence,
annoy and obsess, wreck our lives and bore
our friends until we place temporary frames
on them, send them back out into the world,
whence they escape, if all goes well, moving
on to the next person. Trickster made this place.
We never know how it will go.
Rosalind Krauss can move to storage now.
Escape, to lose a cape. Collegio, a hooded man.
A scape is the green stalk a garlic puts up.
Arguments about whether to pinch it.
Nearing and the Eastmans said they escaped wealth.
Maybe that is what she has done.
For my sins, I have become a subscriber
to the Precious Pomegranate Review. I know,
the title should have tipped me off,
but, ever seeking to improve cash flow, and
lured by a large prize, I ignored my Bon Ange’ and paid
to enter one of their contests, and now,
I pay every time I open the journal. My error
turned out to be one of those crimes that Plato
said was its own punishment. They do
have lots of money. I’ll grant them that, although
the chance to get some of it is not worth the risk
of being possessed by the spirit of Bukowski
as I invariably am, when unable to ignore
this innocent-looking little volume that is really a portkey
to poetic HELL: do not pass go, no chat with St. Pete.
But to my credit, I have learned from my pain. Funny
how sententious social commentary proves unkillable, though
the New Critics beat it like a mad dog, every chance
they got. It seems that if you need to get your rosy prosy
propaganda out to the liberal choir, you just need to compose
a sermon in three-line verses, and these kids really dig it. Dig?
Or put together some crypto-jib-jab – God, they love that —
and sign it with a vaguely pornographic baby name. As of today,
I am changing my name to Lalee, rhymes with dolly,
as in Lollipop. Jesus, I can’t even remember the last
time someone kissed my vulva, but I got your
Precious Pomegranate, right here.