The head of the Brontosaurus erupted in debate spewing money
Sufficient to make some paleontologists’ living for a generation
Disputes between Diplodocus and Apatosaurus founded careers
Like echoing museums and marble floors endowed at great expense
By Foundation money dug up from trusts held of bones in marble mausoleums
Bequeathing Jurassic skeletons cast in plaster (priceless petrified bones coffered)
Camarasaurs and Albertasaurs petrified along with zooplankton and algae’s
Fossilized extract fueling the Canadian economy in that same province holding
The Tyrrell Museum’s complete Tyrannosaurus skeleton with its detached head
Heavy as unintelligible words detached from syntax and evacuated of the themes
Wallace Stevens faulted Robert Frost’s poetry for—poetry made neither a living—
Who spilled words on paper like colors on an abstract painting’s canvass evacuated
Of recognizable content, more art history than paleontology, also palaeontology—
Unrecognized by spellcheck as an extinct word dug up and displayed in a muse


It’s taken me this many years, in my mature age

To understand, and, more, to enjoy Shakespeare

For in my younger years, I couldn’t, didn’t

I look forward to the delight in store for me

As play by play, I will open the heavy, leather volumes

Of Shakespeare in my home library


I recall, in my youth, my delight

As symphony by symphony, I discovered Beethoven

I recall my sadness, when there were no more symphonies to discover

Symphony by symphony, I had heard them all

Though I can still listen to them time and again


I recall, in early manhood, my delight

As novel by novel, I discovered Hemingway

I recall emulating Hemingway’s characters, Hemingway

As I was young, and searching for an identity


I recall, also in early manhood, my awe

As I viewed paintings in museums

That I had previously seen only as prints in books

And I could, can, view them time and again


So all these years, these good years

Bring me to the doorstep of Shakespeare

And like an eager youth, I anticipate

The delight in store for me

As play by play, I open the heavy, leather volumes

Of Shakespeare in my home library—

A surprising boon bestowed on my advanced years

THE LESSON FOR TODAY (Not Necessarily a Poem)

Dollars and debts and interest compounding

Stocks and bonds and dividends

The bottom line and profit margins and markets

The economic drive some ride into obscene wealth

The likes of these bought Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

For the highest price ever in the ‘80’s

While Van Gogh, himself, died impoverished

Having sold only one painting in his lifetime

The likes of Van Gogh aren’t concerned with

Dollars and debts and interest compounding

His ecstasy was discovering how to paint a tree

The purchase of Sunflowers contributed to the GDP

But the production of the same didn’t

Obscene profits are no real incentive

When Art Tries to Be Art

When art tries to be art it fails and offends.  Novels should be a good story, film should be good drama, music should be rhythmic and melodious, poetry should be the marriage of sound and sense, paintings should be about space, figure, and form, and beauty is important, as is passion in all this.

I saw a movie that began with a woman walking in a graveyard, in the autumn.  “Here we go,” I thought.  Where could the movie go from there?  As the story progressed, it kept cutting back to the woman walking in the graveyard.  Something about death intruding into a quite ordinary story.  Then there are films with odd camera angles.  An odd camera angle that adds to the dramatic tension works.  But there are too many films that show odd angles for their own sake, under the mistaken assumption that those camera angles make a mediocre movie into art.

I’ve heard musicians who add performance art into their songs, so that they will be artistic.  I saw a singer wrap herself in a blanket with an image of the whole world on it, as she bowed.  I wasn’t sure of her point, but I was sure she was trying to be artistic.

I’ve read poets who use precious words, poetic words, so that they would be making poetry.  One such word is gossamer.

I saw an artwork that was a spiral cut of paper with great works of art reproduced on it.  Something about art being about art.

A good story will be art.  A good poem doesn’t need poetic words to be art.  A riveting movie will be art.  A song that touches the soul and bespeaks humanity’s pain, joy, and passion will be art.  A painting you can’t take your eyes off will be art.  Art doesn’t need to try to be art.