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This work is licensed
under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial
4.0 International License
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Postmodern Village
est. 1999
e-mail * terms * privacy
On "Phase/Change"
by E.W. Wilder

 

Occasionally, a poem surfaces that is claimed to be a Bean Newton original. In this case, the present author was summoned to a lunch with a Russian lawyer by assurances that the manuscript in her possession was an authentic Bean Newton, an answer to many problems faced by those of us who have built our academic careers curating the work of obscure scribblers long believed to have died in 1997 (or, depending on sources, 1998).


Upon arriving at the meeting, however, the author had his doubts: the work had been printed on tractor-feed paper (a good sign), but makes reference to “140 characters,” which would imply a knowledge of Twitter, which had yet to be invented at the time of Newton’s purported demise. After the handoff of the supposedly Beany materials, the rest of the meeting was spent discussing the fate of Russian orphans, about which the author could do nothing.


Presented here in its entirety and with no further comment or analysis, “Phase/Change” adds to the growing number of Bean Newton poems of uncertain or indeterminate origin or attribution.


Phase/Change
Attributed to Bean Newton

I

We are out

                  --of desire to say nothing of

change, the phases of

                                    clouds, amystical markers,

laden with dreams and lightening, with

cast and over-

                       cast, with the parting

of Romantic daffodils.

                                   Christ-like

you’re waiting, so attired,

                                         beneath gleaming

glass and cooking on

                                   asphalt, for Yeats’s

yeasty release, the chaos of being

                                                        overrun

with mechanized life – a man alive

                                                        with his car,

more rubber, more roll, more

                                               steel; mold

will one day grow here as well, a confluence

                                                                         in rotting.


II

I’ll depict my dreams

                                       if you show me your last

bottom-

            dollar; dreams being the last

                                                            of flesh,

tightened upon us, interrupted

                                                 by the odd

owl, the wronged

                            liberated by phone,

                                                             the breathless

power of projected presence.

                                                 I’ll call for your voice;

I’ll call to forget: how

                                 we’ve surpassed six-billion,

and we’ve never felt more alone.


III

Tanks aim triumphant;

                                     screens have reduced even these

into toys to be imagined

                                       away,

all iron clouds, words worthian,

                                                   fickle as the signal

ways in and out. To be

                                     is to be

technogrified, answering to ancient

                                                          calls

in 140 characters or less.

                                          And how many

plied ancient sees, the seas

                                              of myth,

the whale roads, when whales,

                                                   indeed,

                                                                 there were: to photograph

is to mark

                  each passing.


IV

I’m reminded, now,

                               over coffee,

the dance of light the clouds make

                                                         in the wind

and the rush of Western Kansas,

                                                       unoccluded by tree or trouble,

high-rises or the stink

                                     of people—then

the nose detects a feedlot: money

                                                             to the locals,

the end of fantasy

                              for the rest of us.


I’ll spare you the particulars. Money = death,


                                                                           work made

solid, love measured—no wonder

                                                        bills are rolled into coke-

snorting tubes,

                         the compaction of effort and oblivion.

There are no

                      metaphors after this, no safe

                                                                       distances,

from tenor to tine,

                             panophagy of meaning, all phat

and ripe and oozing juice,

                                           a cherry

                                                           tomato

                                                                         popped

and drooling past your lips and chin.


This, too, is mostly vapor.