Ethics Lesson 101

by Caud Sewer Bile

Kenosha, Portland, Oakland. Minneapolis, New York:
Don’t blame their Democratic mayors; they don’t have a cork.
Chicago and Seattle, Albuquerque, Denver too:
Don’t blame their Democratic mayors for their points of view.

Don’t blame Antifa for the riots, nor blame BLM.
Don’t blame the looting or the burning or the hate on them.
Don’t blame Antifa for the violence, or BLM.
Don’t blame the deaths on them; that is not their planned stratagem.

We know who is to blame. It isn’t party activists,
not nihilists, not anarchists, nor jihad terrorists.
Don’t blame the High-Tech money-grubbers or their censor crews.
Don’t blame the Mainstream Media; they just report the news.

Don’t blame coronavirus on the Chinese Communists.
Don’t blame the economic lockdown on the Socialists.
Don’t blame the drug cartels for gangland violence today:
St. Louis, Boston, Dallas, Washington DC, LA.




“et spatio brevi/ spem longam reseces” —Horace, “Book I, Ode XI”
“Yet—never—in Extremity// It asked a crumb—of me” —Emily Dickinson, “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers”

by Wilbur Dee Case

At times it seems that all one has, when one is feeling low,
is hope, hope for a chance, a change in circumstances, oh,
hope for a better place to be amidst heartache and pain,
hope for a bit of happiness, hope for less stress and strain,
hope for an anchor in the turbulence of wind and storm,
hope for a dove to fly above, hope for a touch of warmth,
hope for an olive branch that falls down from an olive tree,
hope for a glass of wine beside some candles flickering,
hope for the strength allowing one to manage and to cope,
hope for more love, and hope that one not ever will lose hope.



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6 Responses

    • BDW

      Mr. Robin’s “Stealth Warfare” utilizes many sound poetic devices, repetition, as in the rhetorical openings, the metrical drumbeat of balladry, a wealth of example, a villainous rationalization, which is a similar approach to that used by Mr. Bile in ”Ethics 101”, etc.

      Poetic flaws are there as well, some of which are also visible within a poem, like Mr. Case’s “Hope”, as, for example, careful ordering. [I have for decades “admired” Pound’s slashing of Eliot’s “The Wasteland”.]

      The poetic offerings of this last decade, which I have read, in free verse, jazz rhyme, or experimental and traditional metrical verse, reveal that New Millennial poetry is not that dissimilar to, say, Romantic or Modernist poetry. There is, as Matthew Arnold said of the Romantics, poetry of having “proceeded without having its proper data, without sufficient material to work with”. In short, they “did not know enough”, the force of whose truth hits me, like “Maxwell’s silver hammer”. Our era’s standards are not high enough. Why?

  1. Margaret Coats

    Since Ethics 101 courses, these days, are usually forthright in telling what one should blame, your reader searches the poem for that information, never finding it. The irony is, of course, that you are forthright, and he has missed every detail in a vain search for something more obscure to blame.

    The most intriguing “Hope” image is “hope for an olive branch that falls down from an olive tree.” Because an olive branch, to symbolize peace, must be presented by someone desiring peace, the fallen branch looks hopeless. It conveys nothing. But the rest of the long line draws attention to the branches remaining on the tree, each of them still potentially serving peace. This, like all of the smaller hopes, supports the final wish “that one not ever will lose hope.” They all invite careful attention to the many varieties of hope!

    • BDW

      Although I do not share Ms. Coats’ poetic stances or attitudes, I think she is the critic who best understands my poetic outlook. I’m not quite sure why; but in prose she occasionally hits the inner landscape of my poetic practice. I like her observations more, I think, because she neither likes my poetry or my criticism that much, and she does not share my poetic vision. (After all, who would, could or should?).

      The two poems, accepted by Mr. Mantyk are both touched by various flaws. Ms. Coats points out one of the main flaws of “Ethics 101”. The “reader searches the poem for that information, never finding it.” Though the tone is obviously ironic, the actual absence of anyone or anything ethical is glaring. I have to admit the purpose in writing the poem was to list a series of cities, as T. S. Eliot did in “The Wasteland”, showing their dissolution. In this respect I failed; I merely got in pet peeves of the moment, not terribly poetically. Rhymes, meter, and topics do not necessarily a good poem make. Though the urban listing is Miltonic, the result is more Guthriesque.

      The artistry of “Hope” is limited in scope. It was a poetic topic I was asked to write on by an editor, needing it that very day. This is one of the reasons I like the tennos; it can be as spontaneous as needed; its metrical basis is formed by half a millennium of English poetic practice. That’s why I think it works well in docupoetry.

      Although already published twice, prior to here, the poem is embarrassing when compared to the two poems quoted, that by Horace and Emily Dickinson. Both writers distill superior ideas of hope quicker and more poetically, which tells me that I should rewrite this poem with completely different symbols and/or placements and with greater concentration. In his “Carpe Diem” ode, I like how Horace notes that hope should not be greater or longer than life itself, and I like how Dickinson, with remarkable imagery makes the abstract concept real.

      Still, “Hope” isn’t without some poetic value: the slant rhymes with their meanings, the natural diction, surprising alliteration, the sustained tone and topic, the rhetorical devices, and the conclusion of the last line.

      Because I am so focused on plastic poetic structures and an open voice, as well as an elastic line, I am prone to the same flaws seen in writers as diverse as Shakespeare and Whitman, imperfect writing. Its value is this: it is a hope-filled style. Its negative quality is its acquiescence to nature. It is hard to achieve a balance between tradition and revolution, the conservative and the liberal, the old and the new, the enduring past and the dynamic future; and yet…

  2. Daniel Kemper

    I confess that I was fairly far along in the poem before I caught on, not because of anything lacking in the writing, but the general context that I’ve come from lately– inundation of news and conversation of friends at great lengths from each other on the political spectrum. I think the irony layers in nicely, very nicely. It made me think: Who was it that answered the question, “What is wrong with the world?” with “I am”? I mean, “Don’t blame me!” 😉

  3. BDW

    Mr. Kemper’s remarks remind me of several things, and how one may relate to poetry.

    1. Readers come from varied “contexts”, and they will relate to poetry and prose from their differing perspectives; hence, a writing of layered-in irony will affect readers in different ways. Mr. Mantyk frequently wants to alter words I use in my poetry and prose, because, as an good lyric editor, he thinks rightly that such writing can be misleading to readers. I remember vividly a wonderful mother recoiling at the possibility of her son having to read Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”. [As an aside, as well as her understanding of French poetry, in general, I suspect that Ms. Coats is as perspicacious as she is to my poetry, because she is an “inveterate editor”.]

    2. Mr. Kemper brings up the actual ethical question of “What is wrong with the World? a question worthy of philosophical exploration; but which could easily be reversed with the question: What is right with the World?

    3. It is Mr. Kemper’s own career as a systems analyst and poet, which intrigues me as well. He has come to the sonnet in works, such as “News of the Revolution” or “Before the Plague”. I know the latter poem brought to my mind how differently I wash my hands now, compared to how I did before the Chinese Coronavirus hit. Since then, hand-washing has become more frequent and involved (partly because my wife is a nurse). Obviously, one’s circumstances and career can have a profound influence on the topics and the outlook of a poet. And it is that variety, I find so invigourating in New Millennial poetry. Just as, having been in the military, where I studied fixed-wing aircraft and worked as a Pershing missile crewman, reminds me always that New Millennial poets must embrace modern technologies as much as we can, no matter how bracing. I know, having studied early computer programming (and even teaching Basic), makes me more receptive to a work, like Mr. Kemper’s “Through the Windshield, the Road”, which, despite its random metric, I like more than his sonnets, because he is attempting more. T. S. Eliot’s clerking, Wallace Stevens’ banking, and WCW’s baby doctoring certainly infused their own poetries.


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