C. E. Chaffin


Some say the universe is beyond caring
like Jeffers, whose savage faith would crack a stone
or "art for art's sake" folks like Frank O'Hara
or Jean Paul Sartre, existential, blind.
(Sestinas shouldn't rhyme.) As I was saying,
the violet shell of light around the heart

Collapses toward its center, wanting stone;
and tidbits of found verse, as in O'Hara
will never wake the deaf nor grant the blind
sight; what should be said is beyond saying
inside petrified forests of the heart
where tourists steal mementos, beyond caring.

I'm too hard on New Yorkers. John O'Hara
grabs me more than Ashbery -- not blind,
but undiscriminating in his saying
anything about all. O'Hara's heart
is open, at least not beyond caring
for advertisements in gutters pinned by stone.

Yet Koch is blind and Ashbery is blind
though fans of theirs are very fond of saying
"They tore the veil from Parnassus' heart."
However great the diction, I'm past caring
about their entertainment value. Though stone
is beaten by paper, not by O'Hara!

There are two gerunds in this pattern of saying,
and active verbs must penetrate the heart:
Love never faileth. Love's never past caring,
would roll forever Sisyphus' stone
if he had eyes to see, unlike O'Hara
who sees only what's there. What's there is blind

Or nearly so; Jeffers described the heart
of God as beautiful and brutal, above caring
(though as a mason the poet prized each stone).
I like Jeffers much better than O'Hara
though neither one can really pierce the blind
set up at Eden's gate. As I was saying,

Some say the universe is beyond caring,
some think Ozymandias only a stone.
Others believe all equal, like O'Hara --
so why prefer a theme if we're all blind?
The Holy Spirit left Mary a saying:
"You will be pierced to your most secret heart."
That's the kind of theme that's worth conveying,
a purer incarnation than this art.

Email: eliotpoe@hotmail.com

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