Apprenticeship

By Will Alexander b. 1948 Will Alexander

... between impulses and repentances,
between advances and retreats.
—Octavio Paz, Eagle or Sun?

Here I am
posing in a mirror of scratch paper sonnets
sonnets as rare
as a live Aegean rhino

absorbing the cracklings of my craft
its riverine volcanoes
its spectacular lightning peninsulas
emitting plentiful creosote phantoms
from an ironic blizzard of unsettled pleromas

scouring through years of unrecognized pablums   
of constant arch-rivalry with extinction
bringing up skulls of intensive discourse
by the claws in one’s mind
which seem to burn with systemic reduction

one then suffers poetic scorching by debris   
by inaugural timber which flashes
by friction which flares up & harries
by unrecognized moltens collapsing in glass   
of initial intuitive neglect

as if one’s fangs
were fatally stifled by incipience
by verbal range war didactics
by territorial driftwood
by sudden undemonstrative detractions   
awed
by the diverse infernos of Trakl & Dante

one’s youngish body stands
devoured by reverential print trails
momentarily cancelled
by the loss of blasphemous nerves & upheaval   
stung
by demeaning neutralities
ravaged
by a blank Sumatran solar psychosis
by a tasteless collision of rums in transition   
by a conspiracy of obscured fertility by hubris

as one sucks in doubt from a wave of tumbling blister trees
there exists irradiations flecked with a gambled synecdoche
with indeterminate earthenware splinters   
taking up
from aboriginal density
a forge of Sumerian verbal signs
cooked with a tendency
towards starfish hypnosis
towards psychic confrontational drainage
conducting one’s frictions in a torrential furnace of osmosis & ire

yes
apprenticeship
means poetry scrawled in unremitting leper’s mosaic   
cringed in smoky interior cubicles
releasing various deleriums
as if pointed under a blackened Oedipal star   
with its dark incapable tints
with its musical ruse of unspoken belladonna

poetics
an imaginal flash of Russian chamber lilies   
stretching under a blue marsupial sun   
like kaleidoscopic tumbleweed
fugaciously transfixed
upon an anomalous totem of glints
upon rainy Buenos Aires transfusions
above the urinal coppers of a flaming polar star rise

of course
kinetic
like magical malachite rivers
flowing from moons
blowing through the 3/4 summits of motionless anginas

I’ve looked
for only the tonalities that scorch   
which bring to my lips wave after wave   
of sensitivity by virulence

yes
a merciless bitterness
brewed by a blue-black tornado of verbs
in a surge of flashing scorpion chatter
in a dessicated storm of inferential parallels & voltage   
like a scattered igneous wind
co-terminus with the bleeding hiatus & the resumption of breath

resolved by flash point edicts   
by consumptive stellar limes
by curvature in tense proto-Bretonian fatigue

mixing magnets
juggling centripetal anti-podes & infinities   
cracking the smoke of pure rupestral magentas

yes
hatcheries
floating through acetylene corruption of practiced mental restraint   
to splendiferous vistas mingled with inspirational roulette   
its mysteriums
always leaping like a grainy rash of scorching tarantellas   
or leaking moon spun alloestrophas*
as if speaking
in irregular glossological green Dutch

a frenetic seminar on febricity
a reitteration of hendecasyllabic agitation & stinging   
a ferocious vacillation
explosive as random “aggregational” nodes
mimed by a black consonantal dissection
its maximal priority
forked at “hypotactic inclusion”
with isochronous internal procedure
with ratios
with phonic penetralia by distortion
primed by anomalous “nuclear accent”
by a cadence composing syllables & compounds

yes
poetics
its force
jettisoned by “hypotaxis”   
by ... paratactic co-ordination   
& fire

FOOTNOTES: alloestrophas: coined from the word “Alloestropha.” A term used by Milton in the Preface to Samson Agonistes to describe verse composed in stanza (or strophes) of irregular length and construction.

Will Alexander, “Apprenticeship” from The Stratospheric Canticles (Pantograph Press, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Will Alexander. Used with the permission of the author.

Source: The Stratospheric Canticles (Pantograph Press, 1995)

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Poet Will Alexander b. 1948

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Will Alexander is a poet whom critics have not been able to categorize easily. An African-American child of the post-World War II baby boom who grew up in south central Los Angeles, he also does not fit any clichéd image of that generation's avant-garde poets. The son of a World War II veteran, Alexander was influenced by the revolutionary struggles of the Third World that first inspired his father during a military tour of the . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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