Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DEAR MINNA, by MAXWELL BODENHEIM



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DEAR MINNA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Catastrophe in a bric-a-brac shop
Last Line: The first note in perfection.
Subject(s): Murder


I

Catastrophe in a bric-a-brac shop.
The proprietor lies murdered.
Pieces of jars, cups, and vases
Have attained the disorderly freedom
That is so objectionable
To scholars and bankrupt fanatics.
Once the jars, cups, and vases
Were unyielding and symmetrical
And immersed in their task of holding nothing.
Now they rest in pieces;
Spell many an accidental sentence;
Renounce the hollow lie.
O Death, you shatter objects
That were small and inflexible
And give them little mysterious
Possibilities.
And we are grateful to you for that.
Our eyes become weary scanning the living array.
Each man takes his inch of belief
Upon the Shelves, and will not move.
Soon we know what he will say;
Know the accompanying gestures
That he will never forsake;
Know the exact amount of space
To which he insists on reducing his grace.
Yet we must continue to see and listen!

II

Dear Minna, visit the orderly salons
And look for missing Fixtures.
Another poet or critic may be dead,
Bringing to us our bit of pleasure.
Dear Minna, buy the newspapers
And read the relieving list of deaths.
Banker, Freudian, and Dadaist
Knocked from the bric-a-brac Shelves
And altered to uncertain shadows,
Exquisitely invisible, inviting
Curiosity and conjecture.
It is well that we are metaphysical.
We must not lose the only delight
That springs from peering at the living figures.
Death must not become
A mere black frame surrounding
The memorized reiterations.
Death must remain a surmise;
Swallower of all traditions.
And against his black must appear
The colored gymnastics of words;
The antics of unchained ideas;
The "minor" and "decadent" host.

III

Dear Minna, insanity
Is the rapture with which certain men
Discover new combinations of words
Accidentally released
By a convulsion within their heads.
When the catastrophe occurs
The cups, jars, and vases are broken
And wild hands play with them.
Dear Minna, I love the promises
Of insanity rounding your face.
But be not always spontaneous.
Let your madness approach
Objects, with a conscious gallantry --
The first note in perfection.





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