Poetry, then, remains a defined enough activity that we can play with the conceit of its being something else. This is impossible, and thus endlessly fascinating. Take Clark Coolidge's, or anybody's, poetry-as-music. Then take the strangeness of the moments in Nathaniel Mackey's poetry where poetry-as-music becomes poetry-as-description-of poetry-as-music. From "Andoumboulouous Brush":
. . ."Mouth that*
moved my mouth,"
soughed, hummed it,
made it buzz . . . Hummed,
hoped glass would break,
walls fall. Sang thru
cracks a croaking
to end all song . . .
Or the way a brief passage by Barbara Guest can, in a complex and gorgeous irony, all at once tease and be teased by the terms of (abstract-expressionist) art, art-criticism, and music. From "Musicality":
two trees leaning forward
the thick new-made emptiness
Hanging apples half-notes
in the rhythmic ceiling red flagged
notational marginsWhere it is the very "notational margins" that emphasize and bind together "notational margins" and "Naturalism"; where anything is Naturalism if and where you say it is—as though a painter daubed on a patch of naturalism near the middle of the canvas; where the notational spacing of poetry gets wilfully mixed up with the literalness of musical notes which are also apples; where words require, like paintings, the material quality of their material: "the thick new-made emptiness," "red flagged / rag clefs."
Maybe this is all obvious and only seems worth repeating because it came in through half sleep. A little later towards morning I became interested in the phenomenon of the descriptive poem-title, as in: "Poem Described by Its Title." "Poem Anxious to Begin." "Poem with Some Dogshit on It." "Exit, Pursued by Words."
Now I'm awake, it looks like spring, and the last thing I'm going to have is another idea.