Discussion Froup

I’ve collected some pomes (not online) that make me feel at once a profound existential despair yet also propel me onto a vague plane of floaty optimism. I don’t know why. So I’ll post them here and you can halp me sort it out. I’ve begun working on the Interminable American Novel (IAN) again, so I’m out of smut mode and into a whole deep philosophical thinky sort of thing. I was super excited last week at my writing meetup when one of the peeps there gave me this fab idea of having my heroine get conned into doing a porno shoot. OK, so I’m not totally out of smut mode. But in my defense, this was the 1980s. Things like this happened! (Or so I’ve heard. I was busy memorizing calorie  books.)

The Perfect Life
By Donald Hall

Unicorns envy their cousin
horses a smooth forehead.
Horses weep for lack of horns.

Hills cherish the ambition
to turn into partial
differential equations,

which want to be poems, or dogs,
or the Pacific Ocean,
or whiskey, or a gold ring.

The man wearing the noose
envies another who fondles
a pistol in a motel room.


It’s possible this poem appeals to me partly because it calls out one of my sins (envy), and takes it to the limit, but then I’m relieved I don’t have to go to the end — I can stop before the last stanza, even metaphorically. It’s reversely cathartic, if there is such a thing. Can we make that up here?

Please comment. I’m as bad at figuring out poems as I am at dreams.

Oh! I had a dream someone drove me to the post office with an important package to mail, but I left my purse in the car. The clerk said it would  be X-amount, but I had no money. That was OK if I had ID, which I did not. Then there was a thing where I couldn’t even leave without ID. You weren’t even supposed to be in the post office without ID. I was in big trouble! Then I woke up.


6 responses to “Discussion Froup

  1. “Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.”
    ― W.H. Auden, New Year Letter


  2. I don’t think the poem is about envy as such, but about the feeling that someone else has it better, which taken to its logical conclusion means that nobody does. Envy is the road to that realisation, which ultimately makes all envy futile. All existence is a longing for something which, if achieved, would only create another longing for something else.


  3. The grass is greener on the other side sort of thing, but I like this poem’s take on it. I think the cathartic effect (reversed or not) is in recognizing you don’t have to worry about this stuff because you’re not even longing for it.


  4. I used to wear a noose to work every day. Totally get this one…

    Your dream is not an outgrowth of a TSA world. It’s an expression of your attempts to form a new life/identity, the feeling that it’s not complete yet, and an underlying unease with your departures from what you’ve always considered to be the “norm” to this point.

    Or not.

    Either way, dreams are usually just your head doing a data dump and classifying everything into retrievable storage areas during down-time. Doesn’t really mean anything, although they can be interesting and provide a vague insight into how your sub/unconscious neural net is building connections between things which will be used later for some really obscure and unpredictable decision-making and informative processes you’ll engage in.


  5. AD's Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings Persona

    BTW, hills ambitious to turn into partial differential equations amused me considerably. Check http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~jmahaffy/courses/f01/math241/lectures/session3/session3.htm – skip the text and math, and just scroll around and look at the pix. Hills are in fact graphical representations of differential equations…very subtle. Made me laugh, even though the poetry (as always) gave me hives.


  6. Of course they are. Hills’ shapes reflect the settling over eons of countless minuscule particles, which as anyone who’s ever played in the sand knows, follow immutable laws of physics and math and become all round and lumpy, just like people.


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