Poetry as the Last Refuge of Metaphysical Scoundrels: A Conversation with Stevens and the Comedian C

by Samuel Loncar

I. Peaches

Poets are philosophers constrained to concision,
the torment of mind’s shallower forms,
inflicting agony on discursivity
offering indifference
to orphaned logos, its divinity
flickering like ancient lamps exposed

through windows left reckless and inviting
to all storms and fierce winds
blasting far from Nous’ once sovereign shores,
placid place of god’s gaze once thought
to be remote enough from tempest, temper,
teapots and the smile splitting

the face free of visage
called khora and hyle,
trickster and womb,
snagging metaphysical minds on the worship of words,
their unthought substrate unthinking itself –
this averted action being no part of its ancient remit,

II. Plums

true – it must stand
at the farce of the empty head seeking strange
birth barely second because child of an unfinished first
through forced entrance into a womb awaiting
all things other than spiritless sounding.

Shall we envy the wealth of the poet
whose prose with ease ignores all interdicts
against sudden success, finding no fields fallow
save those shot through with weeds of praise
aimed above all words to the surface of their purveyance
so slick they may slide to the center,

long past holding, cares surrendered century past
to debates too difficult,
arguments so exclusive in their accumulation of soil
our swiftly planted gardens cannot hope to rival
but we are rich in sand, and of ash
I hear we are well supplied, which has its uses,

but to that thought and all thought save
the mocking threnody we wail winking
in memoriam of the ever looming dead
whose light unwanted still casts the shadow
of our own acclaim, in which we roil and roll
rising smudged and smiling, tongues lolling free

unfettered by sundered shape of thought and sound, imagination
swimming in a pool alongside summery logos,
tanned and shaded by the dim lenses
fashioned exclusive for that hard body,
well rid of the silly doom, divinity,
grand metaphor! once held in thrall
on the nights the lamps still flickered

III. Pears

in that littoral dream of storm and seas
and skies swept with azure veins rippling
heaven’s floor fell to ironic death, rightly unromancing
the platonic dreams of metaphysical men
with stinging sights of soporific motions
made medical on sterile heights and long debate on the dicendum quod

concerning peach and plum and uses of the Sabbath.
Fixed fast in the swirling wake of this chaos incomplete and unaware, the poet
sits on the edge of the sea, collecting shells, offered confident to a mother
who no longer retains the sentiment
to sustain their display, or even awe at their arrival.
Mutely sitting she receives them without smile

and when the child has returned to shore,
sighs before slowly rising to cast them into the garden, untended and rotten,
then sits again
waiting a long listless age
for the child
to remember her name

Samuel Loncar, Ph.D. (Yale University) is helping heal the divide between mind and matter that has sundered wisdom and spirituality from science and technology. A philosopher and scholar of religion, poet, and writer, he works at the intersection of the ancient and the modern. He has taught at Yale university and offers workshops, consultations, and classes on philosophy, religion, and technology. As the Editor and Publisher of the Marginalia Review of Books, he blends scholarly and creative concerns and helps people ask and answer life’s largest questions.