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5 x 7.

— For Mark Scroggins1, with two more poems.


5×7 is the measure here.
Where T Adorno trips up
Homo Ludens at his play,
Who’ll have no hobbyists about.
Our bricolage is work’s gesture.
Our point is just the point.
Point’s a gathering of things

That make a shape, that
Shape a maker: Make a
Marker on his Sundays off.
Feel the comely. Feel the
Fetters Oh man of letters.
Yield to the testy awkwardness
You care not to confess.

Points toward outside in and
Inside out as row row
Your boat. Get abaft the beam
There Oh commander Scrog Gens.
Struggle 5×7 for The People.
Magnify stanzaic with a lens
Or disappear in different Zens.

Poems Searching for a Better Title

Than Poems Searching for a Better Title
Tingle somewhere in the tangle
Of possibilities; all the best ones already
Spoken for by some Comedian as
The Letter C or dreamt up in someone’s
Double Dream of Spring. The Orators
Anticipate King Log. I’d prefer The Wild
Swans at Coole if you dragged them from
A bog, but I’m not Irish – and if I were
A Scot I’d be a Drunk Man Looking at
A Thistle, but still no title comes to mind.
Unentitled to a title used by someone else
I notice that the poems by many poets
Live in books called Poems. I’d go for
Something either high or low among the
Soundings even though it might repeat
The glow of something published on the cover
Of a novel or a travel book, like Brook-Rose
In her Amalgamemnon on Textermination.
Jan Morris sent her Last Letters from Hav,
A place in the imagination where perhaps
A better title walks the streets, searching
For the very thing it is but doesn’t have.

At Nabokov’s

Vlad the Impaler of butterflies and moths
Might one day impale also whom?
Even you, gentle friend, oh yes indeed oh no.
But it would take a while to work things out.
One might start with Sirin’s V in Knight’s
Misty Cambridge, or prance upon a chessboard
Making horsey sounds as music when you queen
Your pawn. For there’s something
Novel in the novel in which I am Sebastian
Longs to affirm Sebastian is I. Vlad, it seems,
The real Vlad, was unhappy strolling through
His college yard. That was Trinity, and on he
Walked toward King’s bridge across the Cam.
What’s a Prismatic Bezel? His lady typist
Wants to know, asks the real hero. Who is?
She liked the jagged rhythms of his Russian
Hand and felt about to float on all the ink.
Tap tap. Does one forget the sound of typing,
The scent of leather chairs in publishers’ offices,
The counterpoint of taps in newsrooms?
Sebastian Knight took place
In real fact upon the suitcase Vlad had
Propped up for desk in his rented Rooms,
To be exact the lavatory was his laboratory.
The suitcase just high enough on the bidet.

JOHN MATTHIAS, a contributing editor of The Fortnightly Review, is also editor emeritus of Notre Dame Review, emeritus professor of English at Notre Dame and the author of some thirty books of poetry, translation, criticism, and scholarship. Shearsman Books published his three volumes of Collected Poems, as well as the uncollected long poem, Trigons, two more volumes of poetry, Complayntes for Doctor Neuro and Acoustic Shadows and a novel, Different Kinds of Music. Tales Tall & Short— Fictional, Factual and In Between  was published by Dos Madres, followed by his 2020 New Yorker memoir, “Living with a Visionary.” His latest collection, Varieties of Homage, was published in 2022 by Odd Volumes, the Fortnightly’s imprint. His Fortnightly archive is here.

  1. Some of Mark Scroggins’ poems are written in stanzas of seven lines, each line containing five words. A seemingly arbitrary use of italics is also characteristic.
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