To the Reader

James Matthew Wilson

Others taunt me with fleeing reality;
I find in wells, most often, something more
Than white dumb stones numbed to eternity.

When I write verse on the heart’s or mind’s core,
I take it that there’s something there to find
Beyond the pulp on the material floor,

Though to speak of it seem sunlight to the blind.
Is Order just to caulk wood boats with pitch,
As if a sea-fit craft were false design?

To gloat in chaos, spite the native itch
To cut through mobbed obscurity and grasp
The rational sense waiting within; to stitch

An ugly patch-work shawl with broken clasps
Instead of learning skilled embroidery
That make a fine and useful coat to last

Beyond the hour: such cynical strategies
Seem opium for anxious but weak minds.
Baudelaire writes that Nature’s company

Has commerce with the intellect, which winds
Through that expansion des choses infinies.
For him, the senses were a means to find

Where things and their ideas meet ethically.
But to detail the truth in decadence
Is not the only task—or shouldn’t be.

He swooned in details, and died in consequence,
Unwilling to hear the lesson in his words.
One ought to note and weigh the relevance

Of those undying shades signaled in words,
Taking them both as beauties and as guides,
Rowing the ship of heart and mind with words.

Good fortune has not blown me to collide
With the toothed rocks of which some poets sing.
And though it costs, I refuse to elide

A reasonable world, whole and discrete,
Or let the only language I compose
Mumble the bitch that “things aren’t always neat.”

With humble hand, I’ve set here words in rows,
Printed such lines in the effort to entice
The reader see the world an ordered rose.

If this gets called in turn “genteel” or “nice,”
“It lacks the flavor of burnt toast and shoe strings,”
Know all I’d meant to do was be precise.

We cannot learn from drugged hues, violent spewings;
Or wrestle truth ensnared in proud confusion,
Where doggerels arrogant and obese go strewing

The talkative forest limbs in hysteric ruin.
I’ve said this world makes perfect sense to me.
And if my ghostly ancestors-in-allusion

May show their numbered knowledge, then we’ll see
If, having learned their pattern, you don’t agree.