Snapshots of a Writer, A Prose Poem Sequence
i. A Dramatist Philosophizes Second Place
A man, fancying himself a poet, tries his hand at drama. His submission is returned, not chosen victorious. He doesn’t receive notice that he was selected for a list or that he is at all outstanding. He solaces himself by putting forward an artistic philosophy.
If your play takes place where your play takes place you have no play. The drama must rift the continuum of space to light the shadow of life — affirm us what we know: Eden’s still abloom, behind a veil. In the silence of our lives, when we most attend to the nature in us, we hear the favored kin of god laughing in the garden. We were pushed from our true frontier.
ii. Papal Phantom Parables #1
S the man is not a dramatist. He tried, he lost. He lost. That’s the key. The defeat. The eternal defeat. No matter the success of a future play, his biography is now stained with truth: he fell. The man sets out to try a prose work, a novel; or a novel made up of bits. He remembers when he abdicated fiction for poetry, making an explicit compact with poetry to surrender his prosaic whims. Nonetheless…
Bad thoughts bedrock bad gods. Dark acts dawn dark gods. Nightmares are the consequence for our benighted piety. Ghosts romp our consciences; we are plagued, shaken in our mortal cages by the interstitial hauntings ‘tween our sleeps and our devotions. Ghosts are gods: and we cathedral these aether-minions; empyrean disasters, deciduous farragoes that will prolong the sleeplessness of our slumbers as we echo along Acheron.
iii. The Man that Never Began that Novel
The man did not find Elysium past Acheron. He is not a good worker. He has not ethic. He reflects.
I believe the gnawing images I’ve had circulating all throughout me for this past year have been gnawing at me entirely for the sake of coming together; that they overrode every indolent nerve I’ve operated on that’s withheld me from doing anything with my life. To this point a story compelled me to complete it or end me; for that reason, everything contained in my stories is essential. I have to, by my instincts, believe in the characters that cohabitate my consciousness.
iv. A Pound of Flesh
A prose poem! What an idea! The man is finding no success as a poet. (Is he one? Can he be if no one else approves? Many people say yes. The man says no.) Nor did his prose discover any love. But the prose poem! A creature of wonderful popularity at the moment. (For what reason? he wonders.) He shall try his hand at this devil.
Life, this unasked-for malady! we should all be able to cry in crisis… what for? We are paying always for what we didn’t purchase: which matters not to the collector, who merely charges who was charged — carries on. There is no defense, no appeal to attorney, to any fraudulence ameliorator. The payments are natural and unopposable, always deplete one’s life. In heaven, one comes to god and the other taxed dead: all our debts are weighed that heaven becomes a circus of slander worthy of a circle of hell. We should all perform there whilst we endeavor to reduce our outstanding debts’ importance by inveighing the negligence, incompetence, inferiority of another — this is true of talent. What if another were to offer one some freedom from their burden? One transferring their atlas? it is theirs; one wants their burdens; they adapt to them, so much so all development, all circuitry of consciousness is symbiotic with one’s awful dowry; to be debt-free, entirely paid off, that’s an emptiness unenviable. Debt is danger: one must live with it, barely affording what they’re charged — who could ever be as happy as who they envy if they let themselves deplete just to experience it? Sadness would still be prevalent, one has merely swapped its form; these debts are ours, but they feel affordable. One gets by — when one can no longer, when their wages cannot meet what is demanded… these are ghost stories of lost powers.
v. Il Miglior Fabbro
On Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ dedication to Pound
An imaginative scenario in which a prose poem has been accepted by a prestigious journal and the scoundrel has been asked for a brief note on the piece’s impetus.
Faced with this again (the other time it happened was with a fragment I scrapped together, called a poem, and sent it off; it was accepted by a lesser-known online press and that press requested some thoughts about it; I proceeded to condemn the piece at the expense of others I’ve worked harder on that are constantly rejected, as though those publications scurrilously alluded were readers!) I am confounded for the sentiment that will align this accomplishment with worth. How so? Well, did I write what I said I wrote? Yes, but ‘write’ has always been an act averred. This sequence came in reveilles. Unedited, unplanned, and forsaken when the little wick that lit the musings burnt out; and without that extracurricular power to press me on I had no motivation to pursue their cogency as a ‘writer’ would, a ‘craftsman’, for I am anything but crafty. Here is the root: what is craft? To me, nothing. Everything arrives in waves, or I have nothing. To sit down and battle through the nothing… never. Words ex nihlo has always been the method, and I concede it is a privileged method, hence my endless sense of election. To be rejected in spite of this election? The sting! The shock to God seeing Baal preferred! So how was this selected over any other piece? A better burst is all I can say. I, like Eliot, credit a better craftsman for its success, though the voice that played my Pound was a muse more fiery coherent than visits other times. Or I listened better on these bursts. Yes, I listened better, me, the terrible attender to the world.
A music aspiring to that pretty silence,
Lingered over by mute melody singing songs in shivers
As she kisses
Nada, shivers, along the psyche:
To love life in spite of the spirit’s edicts that affirm that life is the stench
Of death strewn among asphodels that cough miasmas through Elysium
And darken dark death with tints of worse —
Life’s suffrage extends,
ST Brant is a teacher in Las Vegas with publications in La Piccioletta Barca, RIC, Cathexis Northwest Press, Anti-Heroin Chic, After the Pause, and Concentric. Follow him on Twitter.