All poems by Bruce Dale Wise

The Prisoners in Manacles

by Lu “Reed ABCs” Wei

The prisoners in manacles in western China were
just on a day out, stated the Chinese ambassador.
The picture shows the people kneeling, shaven, wearing blinds.
They’re being led to trains by guards—to trains—relaxing binds.
The Communist ambassador insisted these weren’t coops,
and Uighur people live in peace with other ethnic groups.
So orderly they’re herded; there are no corrals or ramps.
They all are off to wonderful re-education camps.
Maps show 500 camps are operational—a craze—
in Xinjiang where millions live in harmony these days.

 

 

Some Summer Haiku

by “Lice Brews” Ueda

 

Morning doves coo-coo,
coo-coo, oblivious to
coronavirus.

 

In broad, bright green skirt,
tall, gangly Black-Eyed Susan
dances in the wind.

 

 

The CrimSun Dragon

by Uclis Weebeard

His teeth are swords, his claws are spears, his armour ten-fold shields.
Before his deadly viciousness, the even brave soul yields.
His tail is a thunderbolt, his wings a hurricane.
His breath is death to any who dare face his vile bane.
He’s greedy, pushy and a plague; he is a freaky fiend.
He hoards up treasures he’s obtained by stealing sneakily.
He wears a belt when on the road; he draws his victims in
by lies, disguise, misinformation, and an evil grin.
He crushes goodness, truth, compassion; he hates tolerance,
and he will only be content when all are in his clench.

 

 

On Rhyme

by Wic E. Ruse Blade

I know I am unique in my thoughts on the topic rhyme.
I am indeed a writer out of place and out of time.
First, rhyme, for me, is very fluid, and oft approximate;
it takes a certain kind of mind to understand my slant.
I also like inverted rhyme, which no one that I know
would find acceptable. In this I seem to be alone.
Some think I am enmeshed in mire, like a whirling wheel,
that spins and turns, and spurned, is like a stuck automobile.
And then perhaps my worst offense—my willingness to break
anticipated sounds—a big mistake few make—God’s wounds!

 

 

 


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8 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    It is a thrill to read a fellow-poet writing about the camps, similar to the feeling I get when I pass a fellow-unmasked pedestrian on the sidewalks of New York.
    The experience is becoming more and more rare.

    What is the significance of the Dragon’s belt in “ … CrimSun Dragon”?

    You are not alone in being “out of place and out of time”.

    Your closing lines in “On Rhyme” are brilliant.

    Reply
  2. Uclis Weebeard

    In regards to the significance of the “belt”, the attempt was to 1) refer to the dangerous infrastructure initiative, 2) suggest its tightening quality, 3) simultaneously imply a “human” aspect to the monster, and 4) place it in the realm of imaginative folklore fantasy.

    Reply
    • The Society

      To follow up with Mr. Tessitore’s question and add to the poet’s response. The Belt and Road Initiative of the Chinese Communist Party is worth learning about if you don’t know about it already. Basically, the CCP is buying up ports throughout the world and making deals with many governments which give China trading supremacy. Basically, it’s the first tangible step toward world domination.

      From The Epoch Times:

      ‘One Belt, One Road’ Has a Global Reach

      In the early stages of OBOR, the CCP focused on neighboring countries, reaching as far as Europe. Very quickly, the CCP expanded its reach to Africa, Latin America, and even the Arctic Ocean, covering the entire world. The Maritime Silk Road originally consisted of just two routes. A third route, the Polar Silk Road, was added to connect to Europe via the Arctic Ocean. Prior to OBOR, the CCP had already invested heavily in Africa and Latin America. These countries are now part of the major structure of OBOR, which has enabled the CCP to more rapidly expand its financial and military reach in Africa and Latin America.

      The primary goal of OBOR is to export China’s excess capacity by building up basic infrastructure such as railways and highways in other countries. These countries are rich in resources and energy. By helping them build infrastructure, the CCP accomplishes two secondary goals. One is to open routes to ship domestic products to Europe at low cost; the other is to secure the strategic resources of countries that participate in OBOR. The CCP’s intention is to increase its own exports, not to help the countries along the Belt and Road to establish their own manufacturing industries — the CCP would not relinquish Chinese manufacturing.

      The real ambition behind OBOR is to use economic means as a vanguard to establish control over the financial and political lifelines of other countries and turn them into the CCP’s colonies in its globalist strategy. Byproducts of participation in OBOR schemes include importation of all the pernicious aspects of communism: corruption, debt, and totalitarian repression. The project is a deceptive trap that will not bring lasting economic prosperity to its participants.

      Read more here (reprinted by Minghui): https://en.minghui.org/html/articles/2020/5/7/184371.html

      Reply
      • Joe Tessitore

        The Epoch Times used to be available for free on the sidewalks of New York.
        Needless to say …

  3. Cynthia Erlandson

    “The Prisoners in Manacles” and “The CrimSun Dragon” are chilling; it seems to me that they echo the present precarious situation the world is in. “by lies, disguise, misinformation, and an evil grin” is my favorite line.

    Reply
  4. Uclis Weebeard

    Ms. Erlandson accurately notes that “The Prisoners in Manacles” and “The CrimSun Dragon” echo the “present precarious situation”, which is indeed “chilling”.

    As to the adverbial prepositional clause, “by lies, disguise, misinformation, and an evil grin”, the interwoven alliteration of mundane diction does rise, albeit very quietly, to poetic statement, as, for example, the internal rhyme at the third foot and the seventh foot.

    In the prosaic diction of the line, “evil” is more at home for the Tolkienesque qualities of the tennos than it might otherwise be, and is indeed the key descriptive term of the CrimSun Dragon; for any trochee could be placed there with alternate effect.

    Reply
  5. Wic E. Ruse Blade

    unable to respond to hectic dyslectic stop comment removed before perusal stop

    Reply
  6. Bruce Dale Wise

    As comments on the poems have died down, I have decided to include a list of a decade ago.

    On Books That Shaped My Art

    Recently I came across an essay by contemporary poet Daniel Bourne, which was a list of ten works, although he mentions many others, that would be on his bookshelf. It is his story of how he came to poetry. It included a novel, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, poetry books, like Baudelaire’s Les Fleur du mal, The History of Polish Literature by Czeslaw Milosz, and an unopened package of pencils from the Thoreau pencil company. I liked it because it said a lot about him and his poetry; and I thought it would be a good challenge for me as well to take an overview of works that have inspired me, though none might care to read it, let alone publish it.

    1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The first work that captivated me, a novel, was a one hit wonder, like Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, that sent shivers up and down my spine when I first read it as a teenager. It was an introduction to the world at large, in particular, one tiny piece of it—the South. It made me drop everything I was working on—a college education at the time—and think about what was on its pages. It made me think that reading really mattered. I know I didn’t understand Lee’s many insights into humanity, when I first read it, nor how far beyond ethnic sensibilities it delved, nor could I have neatly catalogued it as a Postmodern Huckleberry Finn, like Catcher in the Rye; but there is enough within it, to sustain my interest even now, decades later. I don’t claim for it a place, like Tolstoy’s War and Peace, after whose character Andrei, I took as my name, when I lived in Russian House at the University of Washington, nor Melville’s extravagant Moby Dick, Dostoevsky’s breathtaking Brothers Karamosov, and many other novels of comparable vision, including that most extraordinary novel of ideals and realities Cervantes’ Don Quixote; nor do I claim for Lee a fertility of characterization the equal of Charles Dickens, nor the linguistic textures of Hawthorne, George Eliot, or Henry James. Yet, still I admire her style that quietly encompasses the understatement of Hemingway, the intensity of Faulkner, and the poetic acuteness of Flannery O’Connor.

    2. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Although listed second, the poetry and plays of Shakespeare have had the greatest influence on me over the years. Hamlet, unsurprisingly, figures prominently. What is there not to impress about its architecture and its language, its humour and its horror? But I have liked the magic of Love’s Labour’s Lost, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night. And too, the rampant passions throughout Romeo and Juliet and its counterbalance The Merchant of Venice, the Roman plays, like Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, the histories, like Richard III, Richard II, Henry IV, parts One and Two, and Henry V. Not all the plays have caught my fancy, but others I admire include Othello, Macbeth, Coriolanus, Troilus and Cressida, The Winter’s Tale, Cymbeline and The Tempest. I know I have been influenced by others I have not mentioned; but, like the sonnets and the poems, not all have equally impressed me. Here is a sonnet on one of his plays.

    On a Play of Shakespeare’s

    Tennyson died with a copy of it
    in his hand—Cymbeline, the Celtic King!
    In his brief life, John Keats, too, did love it—
    and lovely heroine, sweet Imogen.
    That horrid world, entwined with beauty’s truth,
    filled with the gross and strangest loveliness,
    is rude, baroque, ornate, grotesque, uncouth,
    filled with deceit, pure hearts and ugliness.
    One is repelled both by its violence
    and death; and yet, redemption is there too,
    along with hopeful peace and innocence,
    and glimmers of a spirit coming through.
    It is an odd and awful winter morn
    into which, far off, Jesus Christ is borne.

    I know that Shakespeare’s language lacks the strength of Aeschylus and the fluidity of Sophocles; still he is for me, because I share his language, the most profound influence on my poetic practice. I cannot even think how my poetry would have developed were it not for the remarkable subtlety of his language. No writer has had a greater influence on me.

    3. T. S. Eliot’s criticism and poetry. The most important Modernist upon my poetic practice has been T. S. Eliot. Here is a sonnet on his life, he who never wrote sonnets.

    Words Written April 15, 2010

    In the end, he became a Royalist,
    an Anglican and true blue Englishman;
    for they defined for him what loyal is
    enroute to being a poetic shaman—
    Thomas Sternes Eliot—who, like Mark Twain,
    was born upon the Mississippi, but
    fled to Harvard, the Sorbonne, and London,
    where he banked, friend of the Pound, and published.
    A subject by 1927,
    he wrote verse, essays, and plays, and received
    the Nobel Prize for Literature in
    the year of 1948—the thief…
    of personality, he met life’s test,
    restrained, remote, austere, and self-possessed.

    In the same way that I have fought with Shakespeare’s poetic works, so too did I struggle hard against the work of T. S. Eliot in my early years. Although those battles, like those with other American Modernists, like Williams, Cummings, Crane, Moore, and Stevens, inter alia, have faded into the background, I still respond with enthusiasm to Eliot’s prosaic insights. When I was young, I particularly enjoyed his fragmentary, montage, cut-and-paste techniques, like those of Pound, Pessoa and Dos Passos, and his dramatic monologues, like those of Tennyson, Browning and Pound. Obviously part of Eliot’s power came from Pound’s practice. But over time Eliot’s poetry’s fragmentary quality began to wear thin, whereas his literary essays continued to impress. To return to them is like returning to old friends. One thought of his, which I have always felt extreme, but which has nevertheless been a spur on my poetic practice, was his comment that “Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them; there is no third.”

    4. Dante’s Divina Commedia. A fourth important and early influence on my work was that of Dante in his Divine Comedy. Three major things I drew from Dante’s poetry were its elasticity, which has always made it seem, the most modern of all writing—no matter when I read it, its terza rima and architectonic structure, which I adopted in my bildings, and his recognition of the importance of Vergil. I love and admire Dante’s Medieval Encylopaedism, his visionary facility, his frankly confessional attitudes, and the purity of his lines, which even to this day continue to impress. In light of that here is a sonnet, whose rhyme scheme is modeled on a sonnet of Dante’s.

    Dante, I wish that Vergil, you, and I
    could stroll across this grand world endlessly,
    century after airy century,
    taking in all that lies between the sky
    and turning Earth, contemplating the why,
    wherefore, and how of life’s great tapestry,
    from Tuscany unto eternity,
    from the fish that swim to the birds that fly,
    so we could create sweeter, newer styles,
    Renaissances, every so often, when
    the whim comes upon us, or a gust blows
    us to a new beginning on one more close,
    taking notes on all that we happen on
    and sending them to Homer, Happy Isles.

    5. Various Classical and Romantic German composers, philosophers, and literary figures. My twenties ended with two years stationed in Heilbronn, Germany, where I fell under the spell of many 18th and 19th century Germans: in poetry, Goethe, Hölderlin, and Heine, in music, Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, in math, Leibniz, Euler, Gauss and Riemann, and in philosophy, most importantly, Nietzsche. I admired Goethe’s vision, Hölderlin’s intensity, and Heine’s ironic lyrics; and, like so many following after, I was overwhelmed by Nietzsche’s power. In time, the hold of German literature has loosened; but I continue to feel that the German approach to Ancient Greece is the most productive, which strikes me oddly, as German is such a consonant-cluster-thick language.

    6. Ancient Greek Poetry and Philosophy. As I moved into my thirties, the German attitude to Ancient Greece brought me to the Classical World of Homer’s enormous achievement in epic poetry, however largely he participated in it, the Odyssey and the Iliad, two works whose estimation by me has only increased with time. I stand in awe of their artistry. Granted, I look on them with a more critical eye than I once did, as I do all literature, but for me they remain the twin pinnacles of the kind of writing toward which all poets should aspire. I think Pope, the great English critic, puts it best in English in An Essay on Criticism when he writes:
    When first young Maro in his boundless mind
    A work t’ outlast immortal Rome designed,
    Perhaps he seem’d above the critic’s law,
    And but from Nature’s fountains scorn’d to draw:
    But when t’ examine ev’ry part he came,
    Nature and Homer were, he found the same.
    Convinc’d, amaz’d, he checks the bold design,
    And rules as strict he labour’d work confine,
    As if the Stagirite o’erlooked each line.
    Learn hence for ancient rules a just esteem;
    To copy nature is to copy them.

    As a note, I do not think T. S. Eliot wrote a single critical essay that compares with Pope’s brilliant, youthful oeuvre, An Essay on Criticism. In addition, there were other Ancient Greek writers who also inspired me, the two foremost, Pindar, in his poetic flights and Aristotle (the Stagirite), in his incredible philosophy. The latter’s remarkable philosophical stance is one toward which I believe all philosophy should strive. Nor am I denigrating the great dramatic philosophy of Plato, the great dramatists of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, Euclid’s The Elements, nor many other great Greek writers of the ancient world; I am only demarcating those figures whose works have most informed my own poetry.

    7. Vergil’s Aeneid. It is Vergil, Maro, as Pope notes, who sets the bar highest in literary achievement. He is the great epic writer of compression; he is my classic. And though his work remained incomplete at his death, like other great works of literature, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Spenser’s Faerie Queene, still there is the odd quality about its power that makes it seem complete, even beyond the minimal work of Augustus’ assigned executors. Although I may have learned more from Shakespeare about my language, I have learned more about how to write from Vergil. It’s not that I don’t see his many flaws, as my own too are so obviously pronounced; even among his relative contemporaries, he lacks the variety and humanity of Horace, the polish of Ovid, and the oratorial skills of Caesar and Cicero. But despite all of that, there is still the enormity of his enterprise, which casts its incredible and powerful net over John Milton in his panoramic Paradise Lost, Dante in his Divina Commedia, and me in all my work.

    8. Art books. From my thirties on, painting has occupied my mind, particularly the Italians, and that classic moment that coincides with the works of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. In the same way that no one work of literature completely inspires me, so it is true of painting; but I have for some time been struck by the extraordinary artistic vision of the great Renaissance Italian painters. I have written hundreds of ekphrastic poems; paintings have inspired countless works of mine, and many better than section 4. from Five Glimpses of Four Women and a Man, in a work on Da Vinci portraits of women; in the form of a bilding, its structure my answer to the Italian sonnet. Here are 144 syllables on La Gioconda:

    Her eyes on the horizon, soft, brown, look upon
    the viewer from wherever he or she may be,
    her head to chest, a golden section finely drawn
    to match the half-length portraiture of the lady
    who sits upon an armchair near a parapet,
    her right hand resting on her left arm. The hazy
    background’s warm, earth tones hovering around her breast
    and cooling to the blues and greens and white around
    her head, her long hair falling in an airy net.
    What is there not in Mona Lisa to astound?
    La Gioconda’s smile? the subtly ranging tones?
    the human frame’s perfectibility unbound?

    Even more so than the great romances of Renaissance Italy, Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso and Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata, or the mathematical works of Niccolò Fontana or Cardano, have the painters and sculptors of Italy informed my art, like Giotto, Fra Angelico, Masacchio, Uccelo, Francesca, Montegna, Giogione, Titian, Cellini, Caravaggio, and Canaletto, inter alia. And though the brilliance of the Italians in art can hardly be equaled, how many others have I not also looked at ekphrastically? like Dürer, Bruegel, El Greco, Poussin, Rubens, Velasquez, Rembrandt,Watteau, David, Turner, Constable, Friedrich, Blake, Rosetti, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Seurat, Picasso, and Americans, like Homer, Sargent, Eakins, Hopper, Wyeth, and Lichtenstein.

    9. Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy. A work that informed my mind more than it did my writing was Russell’s History. History has been a favorite topic of mine, since my teenage years. In high school my favorite class was World History, and I have always been imbued with its principles. I have frequently felt like Vergil’s Aeneas, carrying Anchises and guiding Ascanius. I look at so many things historically, it is surprising that I do not write history. It is true that such an interest explains my own interest in writers like Vergil, Pope and T. S. Eliot. Throughout his book, I enjoy Russell’s petty remarks, like those that target Leibniz, a greater mathematician and logician, as much as I like his occasional insights. In my thirties, I read and reread its various parts as the moment struck me. Although not as exciting as Nietzsche, or as enjoyable as Santayana, nor as obtuse as Charles Sanders Peirce, I still like its condensation and clarity of presentation, and for a while I thought he was the great mathematical philosopher of our time. In mathematics, however, it was Carl B. Boyer’s A History of Mathematics that accompanied me on my intellectual pursuits.

    10. Now, as Daniel Bourne ended his list with a Thoreau company pencil box, I would like to end my list with my own box of miscellanous writers whose works have informed my writing. Each of the following writers has coloured my own writing, sometimes in ways that are difficult for me to disentangle:
    a. Hebrew psalmists, like David;
    b. the Greek Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and Paul’s epistles;
    c. Tang Chinese poets Du Fu, Li Bo, and Wang Wei;
    d. Japanese anthologies Man’yoshu, Kokinshu, and Shinkokinshu;
    e. Japanese haiku writers Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki;
    f. the Spanish mystics, like San Juan de la Cruz;
    g. Spanish Mannerist Luis de Góngora;
    h. French classicists, including mathematicians, like Descartes and Pascal;
    i. French Parnassian Stéphane Mallarmé;
    j. Russian poets Pushkin, Lermontov, and Tyuchev;
    k. the British Romantics, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and Byron;
    l. American and English outcasts Edgar Poe, Emily Dickinson, and Gerard Hopkins;
    m. British satirists Jonathan Swift and George Orwell;
    n. Argentine sonneteer Jorge Luis Borges;
    o. and Postmodernist poet Robert Lowell.

    Who have I not forgotten? The nice thing about ending my list this way is that, of all the others that come to mind before I die, all I have to do is put them in my box.

    Reply

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