Ars Vigia

First thing on waking –
note deterioration of eyesight.
Blurry vision – good!
Might be day for soft focus poem.
But forces contemplation of death.
Bummed out, but could be good too.

Mistakenly pick up dirty sock
instead of clean.
Sniff to confirm.
Lock in theme of disgust.

Race midget from ferry to bus.
Cardio for the day – done!

Work interfering horribly with poetry.
Sit in SBUX and scratch out ideas.
The muse found standing in line –
she’s beautiful, luminous,
but sexually frustrated. No, no. Delete.

Evening walk with dog by the river,
scanning the rocks for washed up body parts.
Light on the water, the city,
she’s beautiful, luminous.
Try to channel Wordsworth.
Wordsworth didn’t have to pick up dog poop
in little plastic bags.

Running out of time
to post April Poem-A-Day!
For inspiration,
watch insects fighting on YouTube.
Read Wikipedia about
Crimean War, again.
Mother Superior turns out the lights
in the living room
and goes to bed.
Sit in the dark,
time’s up.

Bitter my lament.



For DVerse MTB and April Poem a Day

34 thoughts on “Ars Vigia

    1. Paul — thank *you* for the tripwire that unleashed all that. Everyone in this community works so hard at writing, loves poetry so much, and I imagine we all are constantly testing our experiences for luck and inspiration. Thanks so much.


  1. Oh, my! Firstly, I had to look up your title – perfect. Then I move on to the many allusions: the cardio, washed up body parts, Crimean War & having the lights cut out on you. Love the Wordsworth part, but must note that Wordsworth had his yellow flowers, you, the White Knife; trade off is worth it. This is a scream from start to finish!! Nice job of connecting this to PA in the end and glad you managed to write something in spite of it all. (Pick up your socks, though, okay?) Fantastic!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your poem made me chuckle! I have terrible eyesight and love the line:
    ‘Might be day for soft focus poem’,
    as well as
    ‘Work interfering horribly with poetry’!
    I laughed out loud at the thought of Wordsworth picking up dog poop!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey QBit,

    Ah, you write of a favorite subject of mine “apophenia”, a term coined by psychiatrist to study abnormal states of schizophrenia when exaggerated — meaning: the tendency to perceive a connection or meaningful pattern between unrelated or random things (such as objects or ideas).

    In 2008 Michael Shermer made a people-friendly term for the phenomena and called it “patternicity”, which, as you can imagine, I prefer.

    I see patternicity to be one of those rheostat like traits, set higher in some than others, like fastidiousness, out-goingness and others. It seems like you and I are both bless/cursed with our rheostats set a bit high — leaving us more sympathetic with some states of psychosis, perhaps.

    I too am inspired often by simple events to grander thoughts of deeper principle — not metaphysical, but over-reaching ones, the stuff the feeds conspiracists, but I don’t apply it to governments and such but to physics, language and such.

    Your poems tells us of the jumpy mind and teases us like the schizophrenics loose puzzling connections:
    –Ars Vigia (not only Latin, but further obscure: a navigational hazard marked on a chart although its existence and nature has not been confirmed)

    –Race midget (no idea what the midget is)

    –SBUX (oh, I looked it up, Starbucks)

    –Wordsworth (I should have read him, probably did once, but gone)

    –Crimean War

    — Mother Superior (your wife?)

    And I wondered, why the bitter lament.

    All in all, your jumpy hyper-patternicity was fun for me, albeit a bit too much of an effort, but I guess that is the point in this poem. And it starts with a title that certainly did not act as a Valet (Collins).

    I enjoyed this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Sabio – thanks for the detailed comment!

      “Patternicity” – yes, that is a great word for it. The drive to assemble stimulus into patterns to which we ascribe “meaning.” I have always assumed it was strongly based in biology, as many species seem able to map stimulus to varied responses/courses of action. E.g., those shifting shadows in the bushes – is it a lion, run! Our survival probably depended on our ability to quickly make such “meaning” quickly.

      Then, after whatever twists and turns of evolution later, we humans still feel this urgency to try and make sense of things, even when there is no meaning to be had. So we invent gods, cosmologies, art, poetry, lol! The schizophrenic is probably just trying to make sense of stimulus gone awry.

      You saw that clearly in my poem, as I tried to invent meaning where none existed. And yet, while we get all sorts of weird effects from this, like conspiracy theories, we also get Issac Newton, walking along the river Cam night after night, “noticing” what he thinks might be a pattern in the way the shadow of the moon from the university tower bisects and sweeps across a curve in the river. Which gets us Calculus.

      So while my reason tells me that there is no inherent meaning to life, my humanity insists on carrying a torch to find some sort of Truth with a capital T. I try and forgive myself that, along with my fellow sentient beings. Of course until they show up with guns and try to bring me around to their specific rendering of the randomness.

      Onward poets, into the fray!


  4. (1) So, what was with your title? I noted in your comments, no one asked. My guess: they just read over it and ignored it. But then, I am much more literarily unschooled than most.

    (2) Interesting that you said, “my humanity insists on carrying a torch to find some sort of Truth with a capital T” — yet I did not see that in your poem, nor did I discuss that in your comments. Did I miss something.
    I think there is tons of meaning in everything, I just don’t think it is because some person like thing created the world.
    And when you said, “Onward poets, into the fray!” What are poets doing with meaning with a capital T or any other kind of meaning that others don’t? Not sure I followed.


    1. @Sabio, sure, will try and answer these as best I can.

      (1) “Vigia” — I think one other person besides you looked it up, but I was not expecting anyone to dig that deep. It might be *slightly* familiar to a speaker of Spanish (as “lookout”) , but again, it wasn’t my assumption that anyone would know the word or bother with it. I thought most readers would just pass over it with a shrug, as you suggested. So why would I do that? Why would I title something in such an unhelpful manner? I think I’ve written to you before that I’m sort of interested in the limnal — what is inside/outside the lines we draw (in this case, the words). I’m also interested in things that are somatic, e.g., physical responses, possibly outside the direct focus of our consciousness. “Vigia”, while unknown to most English readers (or at least those who don’t flip around through the Oxford English Dictionary for their main source of entertainment), has the faint echoes of “vigil”, “vigilant”, and while unrelated in etymology, possibly “vigorous” etc. Short version, I threw out an unknown word that had some vague familiarity to the root. I wanted that vagueness, let it float by for just a moment. If I can use painting as an analogy, it was like painting a dot of color. Possibly not connected to any other dots, but making its own small impact on the eye. All this by way of explanation. I know you don’t care for this sort of thing, just wanted you to know there was some intention, however well it worked, or failed, or even alienated the reader. I’m not *trying* to alienate the reader, but I know that it is a risk.

      (2) “Truth” — I think what I was trying to say (but maybe didn’t do a very good job) is that we seem biologically to be a bundle of stimulus firing signals at our brains. We work very hard to organize that stimulus into “meaning” — sufficient we can do simple things like pick up a coffee cup or walk across the room, but probably the same mechanism that causes us to assert ideas of god and larger meaning sets (assembled from larger stimulus/data sets). Apologies if that is super-terse and WTF, a more rigorous treatment would require me going back and finishing my Ph.D. in Linguistics. I’m way, way to lazy for that!! In the poem, I write about a bunch of random-ass stuff I do and think during the day. I try, and fail, to find/make a poem out of said randomness (YouTube videos of insects, reading about the Crimean war for example). I’m searching to make meaning out of the random context of modern life, and failing. E.g., finding meaning and then expressing meaning as some sort of equivalent of finding and expressing the “Truth”. Again, all by way of explanation, and nothing I was expecting the reader to think about *directly*. Indirectly, I was hoping that the poem was funny, and that my “statement of poetics” was “this guy sort of stumbles about through his day/life, trying to find ideas for poetry around him in different places, and sometimes fails, but has a sense of humor about it.” I *think* that was sort of available, even though not explicit. Remember as I said above, “available” meaning possibly understood in the background, but maybe not expressly conscious. You and I had a similar discussion about my poem “Why I Write the Way I Do”, where I didn’t write about that at all, but put out sort of Zen koans. I certainly am not trying to shock my readers out of discriminating consciousness into enlightenment, but possibly a low-grade sort of “knowing without knowing”. You may decide that is all a bunch of clap-trap, sure. Just a shot at trying to answer your questions.

      (3) “Poets into the fray” — agreed, there is a ton of meaning everywhere. Some of that meaning we humans are pretty good at, some we are pretty bad at (like most people’s ability to reason statistically. I like all your posts on the subject. Would love a discussion on “correlation is not causation”, and more on “survivor bias”) and some where we are just making stuff up out of the random stimulus of the universe. I want to send poets into that fray, e.g. the onslaught of stimulus, not because I think they will find some sort of objective Truth, but because it is fun. I enjoy what happens when you or I or others connect dots with words, throw down color on the canvas, say something beautiful, or mysterious, or even WTF. My tolerance for WTF is pretty high, higher by a long way that most people’s. I think that is because from time to time even the most inscrutable, unknowable, and frustratingly opaque writing can send a slight jolt of recognition down my spine. I like that jolt, its small release of endorphins, enough to make me willing to wade through volumes and volumes of difficult material. Few people are willing to work that hard. That’s fine, not a value judgement. For what’s it’s worth, I’m conscious enough of how far into the tail of that distribution I am to make its awareness influence my choices when I write.

      Look forward to any further discourse!


  5. @ Q
    Thanx for the explanation of the liminal.
    It will help me to stop from trying to understand your poem, or even feel what you hoped to convey, but instead, it will be like staring at a montage in a sense — again, not my favorite art at all. But it fulfills the desire of the writer, I get that. I actually went to “virgin” but then others are less banal than me, I am sure, and went to loftier words. Smile.

    Interesting your simile to painting, and each of us like paintings for different reasons, and some painters mainly paint for themselves, for some, it works for others too. Interesting that you are willing to alienate readers with your style as opposed to content. Interesting idea.

    But I really appreciate the explanation again.

    As I tried to say in my comment, I am must like you. I think we are both hyper-connectivity folks. I love my hyper-connectivity.

    You poem was indeed funny, though I had to skip a few too many spots unnecessarily (or so my mind told me).

    Concerning “Truth” with a capital T. I never see that used any way except with some religious, political or other agenda. The capital T for me points to deception or elitism or power-holders and such, thus my sensitivity to it. If it not those this, it seems unnecessarily self-deceptive.

    But yes, you enjoy messy, secret, private, esoteric poetry merely as the montage of images, forsaking intended communication but a playground for your mind. Tough stuff for me. I guess I use nature for that to some extent. Thanks for explaining again.

    I hope I have understood you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Sabio — yes I think you got that all about right. Looking for some kind of didactic meaning in my poetry is probably a bad idea! One point of clarification, I very rarely assume the reader will need to know a specific set of assumptions or keywords or arcana or such. Those relationships may or may not be there; they are 2nd or 3rd order effects if at all. E.g., “Crimean war” had no particular meaning whatsoever. So assume my writing is intended to be mostly be read from its surface. If it manages to be humorous, or if a phrase here or there makes you go “Oooh!”, then I’m probably pretty happy about it. If it pulls you in deeper than that, then double extra bonus day. I’d like to think of my writing as an invitation into something hopefully funny, interesting or surprising. I really do try to not make anything esoteric a *requirement*.

      I love my hyper-connectivity too. Probably why we do this. Hope the weather there is as pretty as it is in NYC today!


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