Friday, August 1, 2014

Blaise Pascal and Other Stupid People

I don't suppose this is a "real" poem as it recounts the two times I have actually argued with beloved and good-natured friends that I had written poems that I, of course, had not.  For one, they are both short and perfect.  For two, when had I ever shown such acumen or humor?  If you catch me sleepy, I still might argue that I could have written them, if temporal reality had not got in the way.

Blaise Pascal and Other Stupid People

Twice in my life
I became so confused
That I could not remember
If it was my poem

or not.

Once, I struggled to stuff
the recurring mumblemumble of Beatrice Ravenel,
Charleston's girl, branded an occasional
poet, when she really

was mostly not.

She'd written a poem
called Fear  that I so loved
I claimed it, renamed it, though,
a much more à propos Stupid People,

but i wasn't

the poet, no, it really was the mumblemumbled
Ravenel, herself, who penned that acid
brevity, that truth that could straighten the spines
of the scoliosed.

It was not me.

In the other instance of fugitive provenance,
I fought admission with ferocity
(It was so ridiculous!) and tried to make off
with Jacques Prévert's Les paris stupides,

and imagine, still that he'd not

mind at all, but might buy me a café at some
café, and laugh and laugh and laugh.
he knew how the mind can reel
before the shrinking chasm of the original.

Here is Prévert's poem, oh --
and I often confuse Prévert with Brel,
for reasons not worth the fathom --
in its lucious back-handed smack of a kiss:

Les paris stupides:   un certain Blaise Pascal   etc… etc...

You must understand, of course,
that paris is not Paris, that a pari is
a bet, and the Pascal's bet, or Pascal's
wager, has come to cause some of us to snigger.

Pascal said, in loose translation:  ""You must wager;
it is not optional... Let us weigh the gain and the loss
in wagering that God exists...
If you gain, you gain all;

if you lose, you lose nothing.
Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists."
Some sniggered then, more snigger now,
And just as many secretly hope that he is right,

un certain Blaise Pascal, etc... etc...

The thing is, I could have written it,
had time and space allowed, if first writer
didn't have author's dibs. But as for
Ravenel, I shiver

knowing that that poem is so beyond me.

This is what the genteel lady wrote
under the rubrique of one-worded Fear:

I am only afraid 
Of the cold dull lids of eyes,
And the cold dull grain of sand in the soul,
ndurate, insensate, not to be made incandescent
Even by God.
I am afraid of the stupid people.  

All that I know, for sure,
is that I wish I could wield words
like laughing whips, riotous riata,
a sting and a laugh,
a sting and a laugh,
a slap and a deep, deep kiss.

© 2013 L. Ryan

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