I judge matters differently now: Captain David McDowell, cultivated publisher and editor, told me in 1949 he fought the Nazis at Monte Cassino. An infantryman, halfway up the bloody mountain, almost shot in half, screamed in pain all night. At dawn David ordered a corporal to shoot the soldier, whoever he was. When the corporal refused the order, David shot and killed the corporal. He was one of thousands slaughtered on the mountain. I did not whisper or shout when I was told the story, "Murderer! Murderer!" I thought, "It happens, war is war." David spoke French and Italian without his Southern accent. He telephoned me to go to William Carlos Williams' funeral at a Rutherford church. In attendance Bill's sons, grandchildren, beautiful old ladies, ex-girlfriends and Fanny. I looked for asphodels green among the flowers. I did not recognize a single attending poet. I cannot count all the babies Bill pulled into America, among them American poets he freed from idols-- a few English bastards. W.C. Williams resolved the conflict between form and freedom in verse, stepped lines. When I drive near Rutherford, where Bill was born, along the Passaic River, still mourning for what's past I feel I'm driving a double-deck bus along the Tiber in Rome. I'm dreaming, void of guile, we're near the Isola Tiberina the bus loaded with poets some cold sober some drunk some high. I hear dozens of languages and dialects-- cobbled, tar, and dirt music wherever a shoed, sandaled, or naked foot has trod. Montale beside me, I hear Rimbaud say, "Je suis un autre." Denise Levertov says, "We're all here on this queen of long roads because of Bill's love of love, his secret, American stuff for all of us." We're on the A-Line to Michelangelo. Bill pushes his way from the back of the bus, tells me, "Stop!" He steps down, disappears in the night to help a soldier screaming in pain. Each of us has his or her reason to know who's screaming. The poets head back home, to their lives and graves the most serious appear the personification of frivolity, all of them write poetry that would be impoverished without nonsense.
Stanley Moss is the author of The Wrong Angel (1966), The Skull of Adam (1979), The Intelligence of Clouds (1989) , Asleep in the Garden (1997) , A History of Color (2003) , Songs of Imperfection (2005) , New and Selected Poems (2006) , Rejoicing (2009) , God Breaketh Not All Men's Hearts Alike (2011), No Tear is Commonplace (2013) and It's About Time (2015).
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|Title Annotation:||TWO POEMS|
|Author:||Moss, Stanley (American writer)|
|Publication:||The American Poetry Review|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2019|
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