Ugly Things Will Get Less Ugly

IMG_7785
My Favorite New Music of 2019 CD

“The story of each stone leads back to a mountain.”

W. S. Merwin

American Sonnet for the New Year

by Terrance Hayes

things got terribly ugly incredibly quickly
things got ugly embarrassingly quickly
actually things got ugly unbelievably quickly
honestly things got ugly seemingly infrequently
initially things got ugly ironically usually
awfully carefully things got ugly unsuccessfully
occasionally things got ugly mostly painstakingly
quietly seemingly things got ugly beautifully
infrequently things got ugly sadly especially
frequently unfortunately things got ugly
increasingly obviously things got ugly suddenly
embarrassingly forcefully things got really ugly
regularly truly quickly things got really incredibly
ugly things will get less ugly inevitably hopefully

 

Published in the print edition of The New Yorker,  January 14, 2019,


This is the last Fourteenlines for 2019, the last of the decade.  Fitting to end it with music. I continued my tradition of assembling a mix of my favorite new songs that were released in 2019 and giving it away as gifts.  This years mix was a two cd set with 34 songs.  I include one song from each artist.  There is a certain sound and rhythm that runs through it but the genres run the gamut from rock to blues, to jazz, to soul to pop to singer songwriter.   The best new artist is J. S. Ondara who has local ties to Minneapolis currently.   He is a talent to watch.  Best comeback goes to P. P. Arnold.  First new album in many years and she has made a great one.

I have shared links for my five favorite songs of the year.  Enjoy and Happy New Years.  May 2020 bring you peace, health and prosperity.

 

 

 

Voltas of Acoustics, Instinct & Metaphor

Terrance_Hayes575
Terrance Hayes

Although we live by strife,
     We’re always sorry to begin it.
What, we ask, is life
     Without a touch of Poetry in it.

Hail, Poetry, thou heav’n-born maid!
      Thou gildest e’en the pirate’s trade.
Hail, flowing fount of sentiment! 
      All hail! All hail! Divine emollient! 

Gilbert and Sullivan – Pirates of Penzance

 

American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin

by Terrance Hayes

I lock you in an American sonnet that is part prison,
Part panic closet, a little room in a house set aflame.
I lock you in a form that is part music box, part meat
Grinder to separate the song of the bird from the bone.
I lock your persona in a dream-inducing sleeper hold
While your better selves watch from the bleachers.
I make you both gym & crow here. As the crow
You undergo a beautiful catharsis trapped one night
In the shadows of the gym. As the gym, the feel of crow-
Shit dropping to your floors is not unlike the stars
Falling from the pep rally posters on your walls.
I make you a box of darkness with a bird in its heart.
Voltas of acoustics, instinct & metaphor. It is not enough
To love you. It is not enough to want you destroyed.

Copyright Poetry September 2017.


Who said the sonnet is a dried up husk as a literary form?  It still lives and breathes fire and ice in the hands of spirited young writers, like Terrance Hayes, who revel in the mastery of 14 lines.  Hayes stays within the bounds of tradition enough to give the poem added weight, while loosening the straps of  literary restraint enough to wiggle free to write smoothly and with style.

I love this poem.  The grinder to separate the song of the bird from the bone, is one hell of a line. Interesting questions come to my mind at the end. What does Hayes love?  What does he want destroyed? Tradition? I think he’ll let us decide.  I am grateful he is writing clever, thought provoking poetry.

The line “While your better selves watch from the bleachers” made me think of Yeats poem Second Coming and the line; “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

What does Gilbert and Sullivan have to do with anything?   A silly reminder, fellow Pirate Kings, to try and keep a sense of humor, despite a whole herd of rough beasts slouching towards Bethlehem to be born.

To listen to Terrance Hayes read his poem, click on the link below to go to the Poetry Foundations website and click on the red arrow near the title.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/143917/american-sonnet-for-my-past-and-future-assassin-598dc83c976f1