‘beautiful images’



someone in a workshop says that his poetry is making and presenting ‘beautiful images’, and goes on to qualify by specifying that the beautiful images presented in a ‘non-chaotic way’.

first, i’d ask, ‘when is chaos beautiful’? because it seems like the beautiful must be anything understandable for someone looking for order. what can’t we understand? ‘the chaotic’. so, ‘chaos’ is ‘real’ or not?

‘chaotic’ is anything I can’t ‘get my mind around’. so, chaos is ‘real’ — there’s at least something in the poem that’s not making it work as a poem. ‘some poems are chaotic, they’re not poems’. but, ‘chaos is poetic’. you’re waiting at the airport and your ticket is suddenly accidentally voided by the system. you’re thrown into chaos. telling this story, you can make light of it and describe what happened next — the ticket clerk, your luggage sent to Singapore by mistake… you can organize this event into a non-chaotic event. how? each single event, though beautiful in a cosmic sense, means nothing except itself.

I imagine there are two cases of ‘beautiful’… the one where the instance itself is ‘stunning’… you understand this ‘stunning’, yes? it’s not trivial: I’m struck still, lost in the image itself, “I suddenly see”, as Cole Porter says, “your fabulous face”. my eye runs over your features, I’m momentarily lost in your eyes, their color and depth. I can’t break away.

one thing that must be important about this is seeking out of the mystery, the looking at and looking into, as an active process, a motion. the poem is unfolded, it’s an event itself. because, the other case of beauty becomes experiencing change itself, experiencing changing: the watching or hearing or sensing of change itself. i see the dawn, but I watch the dawn appear. two cases. the one, where I stop and exclude myself from everything but this one moment of dawn… hold this moment as a snapshot.

to break to the point, a poem is an unfolding, a beautiful act. it’s not just a scrapbook. making a poem evolve sense-logically, meaning aesthetically, is what writng a poem is about.

why is this important? why is it important for you to know who your grandmother was? what is the family connection between the separate images in your poem except that the poem itself is a dynamic, a family — not a static thing? you know what i mean, or you should. you know that when you tell a story in real life you control your voice and gestures and present the story in an interesting way — unless you’re this really boring person who just rambles on…? chaos is also about random rambling of everything that comes into your head. after awhile, people are going to start wondering why you’re talking — and, to a narcissist, that could be the death of your  fan club.

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