On Finding Ezra Pound, insane, locked outdoors in a cage in Italy after WWII
John Berryman, The Cage

This much is known: A bee winging it
at the resonance of quantum verse,
subatomic buzz weaponized
into stanzas, words in flight,
les mots juiced like wine –

can ride the fog of war from Idaho
to Pisa, then jackknife
out of the smoke into a cage
where he stings and swings
the cold bar blues.

Flying into rage, insults flying
like rain and sleet flying in the face
of reason, he’s St. Francis of the wasps
and hornets, nectar held tight between his knees,
praying in the sun to piss.

Unknown: how to equate
the velocity of scribbling, scrabbling
at the speed of unsound mind,
with reaching past sanity and breaking off combs
until detritus of poems run sticky in your hands.

For Jillys Where’s Ezra?

24 thoughts on “Ezrasure

  1. Oh! Oh! Oh! I don’t even know where to start! (Ok, it helps to be reading this upon just waking up – all the more surreal.) This just hums with sound and Pound; St. Francis of the wasps?! Great line! Ezra stings. Fantastic!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Les Mots juiced like wine… omg! Sartre visiting Berryman visiting Pound… the insanity visited upon the insane?!? You decanted the Cantos and strained it through a beehive sieve. Excellent, if slightly surreal as the other C said previously. Keep it coming, Randall!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Admirable work, qbit, what is the madness of inspired poets, the difference between a Heaney and Mad Sweeny? Especially when veering and whirling are essential to delving golden combs? All those whirling-dervish manic-depressive confessionals of the late ’50s were in awe of Pound–shadowed by him, for sure–but in our time, less so? We fear that madness more, perhaps. Don’t quite believe even the detritus of poems could count that much. I suppose. One of my favorite poets Jack Gilbert sought out Pound when he was in Europe in 1960; he asked him if poets could still write in the high modernist tradition of the Cantos. Pound was quiet a twenty minutes, then replied: “No. What I have done for the poets is to make it possible for them to put things into poems.” Mad, lame, genuine, or all of it? The combs are still sweet. And “Ezrasure” — nice pun — is part of a good poet’s process, exploring the limits of the sayable and mad. Good work, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brendan — thank you for such a thoughtful and interesting response! Your question at the end certainly the core: “Mad, lame, genuine, or all of it?” That is a great story, and Pound’s answer so Poundian. The hubris and yet over the horizon is truth. His writing past the limits of the sayable and mad, words become pure velocity.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You had me at /can ride the fog of war from Idaho to Pisa/–excellent word-smithing throughout. Your poem peaks our interest about Pound, whom I’ve read in passing. Brendan’s comment is so astute it is intimidating, and makes me wish my poetry education had more substance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’ve got this hardbound copy of the Cantos I found covered in dust at a used bookstore. The owner said it had been there for “ten or twenty” years. I gave him a buck to take it off his hands. My tolerance for inscrutability is pretty high, but this stuff is, well, inscrutable. Maddening with the sense that just past the edge of understanding is some sort of amazing vision.


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