by Brandon Stewart
lady sits across from me
in the lobby at hilton times square.
she exists the entirety of a solar system apart.
in somber silent film,
a matinée to the silently obsessed.
time foreclosed on raven hair’s beauty,
with it, evicted her spirit.
mid-forties it seems, possible bearer
to at least a child.
dense carbon noose asphyxiates her fragile neck,
wannabe starlet someone could once afford.
hour glass centerfold mangled
to crumpled foil posture,
realization that younger hips cover this month’s edition.
iron rouge and mascara
anchor a face
to its abandoned harbor.
far too many naps in the sun crib to compensate with war paint.
pickled sienna husk, proof of low esteem
the moments seem to unwrap.
selfish scarecrow and lion…
behind the drapes has no more tokens for lady.
a show of life,
for a brief moment – a breath
empty gaze returns,
projecting memories of youth onto granite columns.
like pages in yesterday’s tabloid.
men, parties, extravagant gifts
in exchange for her highness’ narrow talents.
spoiled child prostitute
in a woman’s wrinkled cloak.
dropped flowers and ruby sandals at her feet.
of the tasks required of her in return,
sickening circus acts to steal a witch’s income
of adoration and worth.
aging princess’ world once an oyster
now smells of carp rotting in a moat.
life of favor and elegance
cost more than three clicks of her heels.
time paid no interest on glamour,
all accounts returned insufficient.
without commodity to trade for a beau’s affections,
lady ponders the future purpose of her life.
audience sits silent,
another brief moment – a breath
she turns toward me with apologetic smile.
i turn my interest to the younger prospect at the desk.
Brandon Stewart performed his university studies in architectural engineering and mechanical engineering. He holds a Ph.D. in comparative religion while continuing his research into ancient mythologies and philosophical systems. He is an active member with the National Society of Professional Engineers, American Mensa, and Mensa International. When not at work in the fields of structural design or machine design/automation, Brandon can usually be found relaxing his brain while tinkering at his hobbies of poetry, literature, empirical history, esoteric philosophy and research, physics, quantum mechanics, and cosmology.
A Treatise on Relativity: A Logical Perspective of Relative Physics and Cosmology – DreamTree, 2011
One of the characteristics of post post-modernism, or postmodernity, or metamodernism, or whatever chic buzzword critics may want to call the literary shift we are currently experiencing (we really need at least 50 years of distance to apply the correct literary appellation) is undeniably the fusion of technology and literature. In fact, this intermixture has been happening ever since the Transcendentalists have all gone to meet their perfect Maker as reflected in Nature. The Modernists no longer believed in the inherent goodness of man OR nature. Some did not even believe in the existence of God. The Bible was no longer the authoritarian voice in the science classrooms. And the 20th Century began with an explosion of technological advances that in equal turns made life easier, more comfortable, more bearable but which also disseminated more misery and suffering throughout the world.
Enter the writers trying to make sense of a world that no longer made sense. First came the Imagists, Ezra Pound and Hilda Doolittle better known as H.D.. Both rejected their uptight religious upbringing, Pound was a Quaker, Doolittle a Moravian, and both were offspring of scientifically minded fathers, Pound’s was an assayer, Doolittle’s an astronomer. Doolittle was the one who wrote the Imagist Manifesto, which exhorted poets to only use exacting visual images and terse but sharp language to convey meaning. The first six precepts of the Imagist Manifesto:
1. To use the language of common speech, but to employ the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.
2. We believe that the individuality of a poet may often be better expressed in free verse than in conventional forms. In poetry, a new cadence means a new idea.
3. Absolute freedom in the choice of subject.
4. To present an image. We are not a school of painters, but we believe that poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous. It is for this reason that we oppose the cosmic poet, who seems to us to shirk the real difficulties of his art.
5. To produce a poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite.
6. Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very essence of poetry.
We have Ezra Pound to thank for the introduction of such luminaries as T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Ernest Hemingway before Pound’s career disintegrated ingloriously into an insanity of Fascism and Anti-Semitism.
Eliot and Joyce ushered in the American Symbolists, expressing their disgust and equal pleasure at the complicated state of the modern mind and the confounding of all the human senses with *gasp* free verse and greater freedom of fluidity. Images now became “symbols” and not so exact, representing some truth or moral question of the human experience. Poets experimented with images AND language and we have physician poets like William Carlos Williams writing about a red wheelbarrow full of life-saving rainwater and the soldier e.e. cummings unfairly never using the rules of capitalization or punctuation and the insurance executive Wallace Stevens, bored out of his mind in his office in Hartford, scribbling furiously about a single jar placed on top of a lonely hill in Tennessee.
The Americans actually came to symbolism late behind the French. But we have always been a more solemn culture than Europe, our forefathers having emigrated originally NOT because of religious persecution but because their strict conservative religious observances were incongruous to growing enlightened worldviews. Thank God, ironically, for the humanists and secularists amongst our founding fathers.
By loosening up all traditional poetic forms, the American Symbolists paved the way for the Beats. And then the Beats took something great and turned it into shit. I’M JUST KIDDING, actually World War II and all the war baggage the war entailed derailed modernism and then the post-modern period began. BUT SERIOUSLY, the argument as to who contributed more to American literature, the American Symbolists or The Beat Generation, is a different essay for another time.
Which brings us to today, when the fusion between technology and literature is complete and has become more of an amalgamation; when anybody with a laptop can type away with two fingers and burp out some verses and call themselves a poet; when a poet doesn’t even have to know how to spell and can claim that this deficiency is part of the “artistic process.” Self-published chapbooks and online pretentious poetry criticism blogs EXACTLY LIKE THIS ONE abound- How meta, how metamodern my self-reference, which in turn is even more meta. Are we better off now, literary wise, than from the time that the Transcendentalists were traveling to their poetry readings, through the snowy woods, in an open carriage pulled by horses?
Only you can decide.
Brandon Stewart is a no nonsense writer that writes no nonsense scientific manuals and works as an engineer perfecting no nonsense computerized machines to enable them to perform better and more efficiently- No nonsense!
In his free time, Stewart writes precision poems with exacting images and calculated words. His latest poem, a blend of free verse, lower caps, images, and symbolism, takes the smallest of human gestures, an eye blink, and transforms the gesture into the comprehensive statement of his subject’s life.
Notice how Stewart also deftly places his subject in the cosmos and by doing so also places all of us, the reader, humanity, in our proper place in relationship to the cosmos. The lady in question may have let her life go by in the space of an eye blink and she may hold the same consideration to the observer who may be watching her at 24 frames per second BUT the observer realizes that his life is likewise in a silent zoetrope carousel should the universe also be watching. So, from the still picture in the magazine to the eye’s beta movement of illusion, life is only worth a blink, the inner life of the mind’s eye as well as the outer life.
– Angel Uriel Perales, March 2012