This is a cento utilizing Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud (translation by John Ashbery); written in response to a disgruntled poet in the Las Vegas community that consistently, remorselessly, digs into other people’s work, claiming that slam poetry is about vanity and that it is not “vital poetry.” Essentially, he is entirely sans sportsmanship, completely uncouth, and cannot get over the sound of his own ego to quiet his damned opinions. Since he won’t listen to anyone in our community, I thought he might listen to some words from Rimbaud – a poet he claims to admire. Let’s see if this has any positive effect.
Spurned As Chaos
This idol, black eyes and yellow mane, without family or court,
were it only for the mask with which you gratified us.
O let us [k]now, we who are so deserving of these torments!
the cannon on which I must hurl myself through the scrum of trees and light air!
Is it possible to become ecstatic amid destruction, rejuvenate oneself through cruelty?
Your fangs gleam.
In the wood there is a bird, his song stops you and makes you blush.
I churned my blood.
to banish tyrannical honesties, so that we might bring forth our very pure love.
When we’re very strong, – who’s backing down?
…I stretched ropes from steeple to steeple;
…I see new specters (Very robust rascals. Several of them have exploited your worlds. With no pressing needs, and in no hurry to bring into play their brilliant faculties and their experience of your consciences. What mature men!) rolling through the thick and eternal fumes of coal fires,
What kind arms,
…I wrapped her in the veils I had collected,
the cruel procedures of discarded finery.
with tortures that laugh, in their heinously stormy silence.
O Sounds and visions!
What cities they are!
Departure amid new noise and affection!
tragedies of thieves and demi-gods of a spirituality hitherto unknown to history or religions.
I see what comes afterward!
“Build wherever you can the substance of our fortunes and our wishes”
Oh the precious stones that were hiding,
The actual colors of life darken, dance, and emerge around the Vision as it takes shape.
My wisdom is spurned as chaos.
since then the Moon has heard jackals cheeping in thyme deserts,
Further down the sewers.
In hours of bitterness…
When there’s nothing on earth but a single old man,
–you, your impatience —
the sober air of this sour countryside is ample nourishment for [your] hideous skepticism.
What wanton pillaging of the garden of beauty!
This poison will remain in all of our veins even when,…we’ll be restored to the old discord.
We have faith in the poison.
sole flatterer of this vile despair.
–Here we’ll whistle for the storm, and for Sodoms,–
Whose angle is struck by whirlpools of light,
to roll with one’s wounds through the wearying air and the sea;
–I dream of a War of righteousness or force, whose logic will be quite unexpected.
–strength and rectitude reflect the dance and the voice only now appreciated.