27 October 2014

The Shelmstress Poems II

From Wikipedia:

"'Coolidge Shelmstress writes in his introduction to Great Book of Bad Poems, the definitive collection of Calvé Shelmstress's poetry (with the title Calvé requested as well as requesting that all his work be burned after his death--he seemed to know his brother all too well): "I grew up in a household filled with books, music, language, and languages. My parents spoke to my elder brother in three languages, but to me they spoke only in English. This killed me. But my brother aced every German and French class he ever took and any class in English Literature. He hated America for being both too easy and so hard.

"'He was an early adopter of scientific, psychologic, and--not quite-so-early--psychoanalytic frames of knowledge and languages, which he followed assiduously. In some of his best poems, he uses terms like 'Dark Matter,' 'Event-Horizon,' and 'Anti-Matter' to, to my mind, spectacular effect. He is the poet of Happy-Unhappy Happiness. I have reproduced his poem on learning, with all its line-spacing intact, the way my brother insisted it must be (an insistence lost on the editors of most anthologies in which it appears). It is as though this poem were falling apart, even as it expresses itself. I think I may weep every time I read it.'"

I have learned, I
by Calvé Shelmstress

I have learned, I

Have found, that I

Live in a world

Of Negative,


Love; a World of


Thought, in with whose

Contact which, my

Thought should Explode.

Yet. I live in

That World of Thought,

Which, if I should

Lose it, I should

Lose My Self; a

Self unmeasured

By Puritan

Accountants, and

Profit Margin.

In their world, I

Would live in a

World, where My Life's

Work, My Life's worth,

My Life's words and

World would account

For Nothing; no,

How should I live

There? I could not.

Calvé Shelmstress, I have learned, I, 1974.

Beware, O Human
by Calvé Shelmstress

Beware, O Human of
Of Sleep, Time Machine of
American Depression;
With you falling asleep
Tuesday yet waking on
Thursday. This is a verse

Written in Sixes. That
Sick sixth sense of health and
Hell, this machine will take
You backwards only but
Never forward; Inward,
Never outward; then but

Never now nor yet. La
Grande jamais la petite
Mort. Ersatz Liebe; Nichts.
This is a verse written
In Sixes. Sleep, sleep, sleep
The Day away. Who cares?

Six deadly sins, virtues
Too, are quite enough, who
Needs the seventh? I my
Self do not even need
Six. This verse is written
In Sixths. The Beatles said

We should want to live in
A week of eight days. I
Could never. How should I
Ever live in an eight
Day week, when six is too
Much for me. This verse is

Written in Sixes. O
Beware, Human, of this
Machine, it will take you
To Peace and Nowhere fast.
Schade. Tristesse. This verse
Is written in Sixes.

Calvé Shelmstress, Beware, O Human, 1984.

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