Love Sonnet

She is a masterpiece as excellent

As the cracks in the Mona Lisa.

A work of art as almost beautiful

As the mold on a squirmy armadillo.

Can I compare her to a jubilant hairy lobster?

Or is she equalled by the immaculate weeping watermelons?

She is more lovely than the shattered shards

Of exquisite Grecian pottery,

And more realistic than a crocodile

Who swims all day in tart and tasty lipstick.

The missing pieces

Of the mansion Parthenon,

The breathtaking breaks

In a Yellowstone precipice,

The brown part

Of a rotten bow tie.

She is more to me than all of these,

And now I have a kangaroo nose of my own.

I think that I must be in love,

But it could be indigestion—

Only Lee or a bad burrito

Could make me feel this way.

She smells much better than a bad burrito.

She doesn’t fit at all inside the rigid barbed wire,

But she is a misshaped gratuitous extraneous rupture

In a canvass that forever disrupts the regular flow of purple tea.

So what is the best type of story to tell a toddler with pointy teeth?

Stranded

Excuse me madam—I really hate to trouble you like this

But, you see, my car ran out of gas,

And I was wondering if maybe you could spare me,

An extra, broken-legged crocodile, with long ears…

I used to have short ears.

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“THE MAN WITH THE YELLOW BOW TIE”

Embarrassment

Today he looked at me

Through his crooked glasses frame

And when he said, “hi, Lee”

I almost forgot my eggplant-potato salad.

I think he knows about my nose,

Let’s hope he passes over it.

“There are in this world stranger things,”

Says a stranger, “than to have a kangaroo nose,”

But if Benny knew I think he’d mind

That deep inside my rigid make up case

Contained below the cosmic cosmetics

And other contents of every kind and sort,

There is an extra crocodile with long ears.

His leg is broken and he cannot swim

To peek his head above the liquid lipstick.

But even if his leg were healed,

I think his ears would still look funny.

Everything else is in order—

Except that I forgot again to tip the door man…

With the golden token…

And the yellow bow tie.

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“THE MAN WITH THE YELLOW BOW TIE”

Beautiful Laugh

She didn’t laugh that loudly,

But I saw her kangaroo nose.

It was disintegrating in the ashes

Of a decomposing image.

A cold image of the world

That didn’t have extra room

To hold a pointless carnival

Or an amusing circus.

An image of rigid boxes

That were dusted every day

With scratchy wire brooms

To keep away the tangled cobwebs

And creative long-winded spiders with pinstriped pants.

A rotten, silken image of nothing.

But to wipe off the snot

Of a kangaroo nose with it

Is a beautiful thing,

To laugh out clearly the truth

Like hilarious chocolate milk

That overflows propriety indecorously

Is a disgusting and superfluous—necessity.

I like boogers better

Than false impressions,

And I don’t own a volleyball—

Because the man with the yellow bow tie

Doesn’t have his own volleyball—

Yesterday he went to the mall…

By himself.

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“THE MAN WITH THE YELLOW BOW TIE”

Paroxysm of Poetry: The Man with the Yellow Bow Tie

Dear Readers,

It’s time for another Paroxysm of Poetry.  That is, a week or so of daily poetic postings that pour out of my pen in perhaps a kind of paroxysmal pandemonium.  This set of poetry is called The Man with the Yellow Bow Tie.  It is written in a Surrealist style that is intended to be playful, entertaining, and a little bit ludicrous.  I hope these will be a lot of fun for everyone to read, but always remember that if you don’t enjoy them, you are free to close your internet browser at any time.  I apologise in advance for my bizarre taste in aesthetics; you will have to forgive a well-meaning, bow-tie-wearing poetaster like myself.

Your servant,

TWM

From Dust

The splendour of the world in rags

Resplendent darkness hides.  And light

I see the mystery of heaven

That human flesh decays in humble

Waste. A sacred sacrilege

To muck and filth, it burns

With thunder, resounds with fire,

And rages all the more with silent

Wind. Did he lay the foundation

Of earth, a giving grave of life?

How to Impress Girls

Dear Ernest,

Everyone loves a good anecdote, so I thought I’d tell you one: several years ago, while at a composition workshop, I had the privilege of meeting and befriending a fellow by the name of Ben Nakamura.  Ben’s English skills were intermediate at best, but as you and I both know, this put him on par with the upper percentile of all native speakers—a brief perusal of any blog like this one can reveal as much.  Employing such and aptitude for English, he once asked me why I began writing music.  I offered him in reply a lengthy exposition on the purpose of art, the human propensity for creativity, and other such kinds of pretentious philosophical ramblings.  When I had sufficiently despoiled from his mind any presumption of eloquence or compendiousness that he might have held for me in light of my life-long familiarity with our mother tongue, I stopped blabbering and returned to him with the same question.  His response was much simpler: “I started writing music,” he said, “to impress a girl.”  Then he laughed at himself before adding, “it’s okay though.  It turns out I like doing it anyway.”

In your last letter: “I fear you despise your own tongue at times”

In answer to your accusation, I must submit entirely.  I can hardly stand my accursed tongue!  It’s always sloshing around like an unwelcome guest, the umbrage of my mouth, all wet and gross, and always arguing with me.  I don’t care how amusing a scene it makes for passersby—my debates with my tongue are utterly infuriating!  Just the other day we were arguing about Dante.  My loquacious antagonist was of the opinion that the Divine Comedy can be read and appreciated much more deeply under the assumption that Beatrice was not a real person.  I opposed him directly.  If Beatrice were not an actual woman, it would mean that Dante has neglected to provided us with any real-world advice on how to impress girls.  Naturally, I would find this all rather disappointing, since arguing about Dante with my tongue already puts me at a disadvantage in that category.  In defence of my viewpoint, allow me to extrapolate evidence from one of his sonnets, quoting in a language that’s much more dear me by heart than native to me by birth:

“or voi di sua virtù farvi savere.  / Dico, qual vuol gentil donna parere / vada con lei, che quando va per via, / gitta nei cor villani Amore un gelo, / per che onne lor pensero agghiaccia e pere; / e qual soffrisse di starla a vedere / diverria nobil cosa o si morria.”

trans: Now let me make her [Beatrice’s] virtue known. I say that it behoves whoever longs to seem a gentle lady to walk with her, for when she passes by, Love casts a chill into the hearts of the villainous, so that their every thought freezes and perishes.  Whoever might endure standing beside and beholding her—he would either become something noble or die.

(Vita Nuova XIX)

As this sonnet implies, the main point that Dante will try to make in the Divine Comedy is simply this: the best way to impress a girl is not to compose music for her but to write immortal Italian love poetry.  All throughout the epic, the same question recurs.  Dante asks his readers and himself, ‘how does one become worthy?’  Worthy, that is, of so virtuous a lady as Beatrice, of so lofty a poetic theme as the salvation of the human soul, and of so glorious a kingdom as that unending realm of Him who is from Everlasting to Everlasting.  The solution is always immortal Italian love poetry.  Live a life, Dante tells us, that is a love poem addressed to no less a muse than the very God whose name is Love.  Come as you are, base and villainous, and He will cast a chill into your heart so that your every vile thought vanishes into oblivion.  Perhaps this will begin somewhere quite superficial—perhaps you’ll begin ‘pursuing God’ only to impress others with your conspicuous virtues or specious magnanimity, both of which are among the many practical benefits of being a nominal Christian.  But by the time you find yourself ‘midway through the journey of our life’, you just might realise that God has been using all those trivialities to cultivate his own radical vision for you.  He has been pursuing you through all the stupid fancies, all the vanities and futilities that first inspired you to turn toward Him, and now, as the impetus and completion of everything that you are becoming, He has overwhelmed you with His grace and bereaved you of every source of pride, even the pride you might take in your own morality and righteousness.  When He has done all this, you may very well arrive at a solidarity with my friend Ben Nakamura: “it’s okay,” you’ll conclude, “it turns out I like doing this anyway.”

Your servant,

TWM

P.S.  Everything I told you about Ben is true…except his name.  He didn’t really go around using a pseudonym as far as I know.

Sucking the Blood out of a Mosquito

I considered titling this post ‘On Surrealism’, but ‘Sucking the Blood out of a Mosquito’ sounded less stodgy, so I went with that.  Sorry if it grosses you out a little.  Anyway, here it is:

It was one of the primary goals of the surrealist movement to astonish its audience.  I believe the surrealists have succeeded wonderfully in that regard, but I am not sure to what end.  In terms of the impact, there is little difference between a hare getting a tortoisecut and an apple crawling out of a worm—both are surreal and astonishing, but neither one communicates to us a particular truth or wonder.  It seems that in trying desperately to liberate his expressive palette, the surrealist has actually restricted it and very nearly reduced it to utter meaninglessness.  Instead of reconciling fantasy with reality, he has rejected reality altogether, turning inward to the more vivid but even less satisfying world his of imagination.

Salvador Dalí (1904 – 1989) was a Spanish surrealist painter, and at times, a devout Catholic.  He is probably most famous for painting this:

The_Persistence_of_Memory
The Persistence of Memory

Perhaps, considering how iconoclastic a movement he followed, it might astonish us that Dalí was ever a Catholic.  But I think this only reflects how greatly our modern society tends to misunderstand what it means to be Christian.  Unlike Surrealism, Christianity is an ideology with no preference for either novelty or convention.  The Surrealist movement has existed entirely for the sake of revolution—take away the radicalism and the astonishment dies.  But Christianity makes no comment on either the radical or the obvious, and if it harbours any implicit affiliation with tradition, it is that religious tradition exists for the sake of Christianity and not the other way around.  However, while the novelty of Surrealism then poses no incompatibility in itself, there still seems to be a conflict between the Surrealist movement as it originally began and Christianity.  That conflict is the alleged rejection of reason.

As I’ve argued elsewhere, there really is no such thing as illogical thought.  One can believe in the irrational but not experience it.  And this belief is what fuels conventional surrealist art, while also providing its greatest shortcoming.  What I find so uninteresting about an apple crawling out of a worm is not the situation itself, but its implied context.  Surrealism cannot help but take place in a world with no rules, a world with no limitations or conflicts.  But these adversities are the very things that make earthly life interesting in the first place, and to exclude them from an imitation of nature is to overlook the most beautiful thing on this side of eternity: the resolution of dissonance.  Good art doesn’t astonish merely for the sake of astonishment; instead it imitates nature, and that is astonishing in itself.  Perhaps making that kind of art might entail hares getting tortoisecuts or sucking the blood out of mosquitos, but at the same time, every incongruity ought to be rationally explained, and that will make it all the more beautiful.

Sometimes as Christians we can forget how astonishing the world really is.  We too might think that the only recourse from the dull vexation of this revolving planet under the sun is some kind of escape.  But in actuality, we need no compensation for the truth.  There is in fact nothing more astonishing than the most fundamental reality of our lives:

Dalí's painting of the Passion of Christ.
Dalí’s painting of the Passion of Christ.

 

There is nothing illogical about God’s creation, but everything about it is astonishing.  For we could not imagine something more beautiful or surreal than what Our Saviour has done for us in reality.  And what is the purpose of art or even of fantasy if not to reinvigorate once again our astonishment with that truth?

Incidentally, Dalí was also fascinated with rhinoceroses.

The Atrocity Fallen

A crag that threatens not the heavens,
Towers atrocious over man, where brutal
The ridge extends as violent glory
Over-stands the conquered.
And he is like a haughty beast
That thunders horrendous the stone—
Still stands,
Firm the wretched peak,
While wandering zephyrs and down falling
The waters rushes; so run off the roughest pass
Hasty angst and idle labours;
Sediment falls like tears from the eyes,
And a precious child weeps alone;
Gradual, aggravate—
The gradient smooth.