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Lions Roar : November 2008
THE OUROBOROS with men as with caterpillars nothing was chanced the penniless world was hemmed-in by mountains on three sides with gibbons and cranes to seem endless gradually three or four flowers tiny divots of earth by the tens of thousands and a skein of fine white sewing silk appeared on my coat and hat but to allow for the ouroboros that lives in my living room perched on the caldera’s rim and over my shoulder like the white bird you can’t see the spyglass drew a cocoon beating a drum in the doorway of my own raising so many misshapen wishes too tired to rest or return home About a Poem: Andrei Codrescu on “The Ouroboros,” by Dave Brinks THE OUROBUROUS, the mythical creature who devours itself beginning with swallowing its own tail, is the definition of poetry. Poetry is the only fuel that (ideally) burns clean, leaving behind no messages, no intentions, no authorial conceits, only the vague and not unpleasant feeling that something was there, and now it no longer is. Exactly like life and your human being filled with it (momentarily). Dave Brinks is the author of Caveat Onus: I-IV (Lavender Ink Press), the editor of the literary journal Ya w p , and the owner of the Goldmine, a bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans where he co-produces the 17 Poets! weekly series with Megan Burns. He is all poet and as such he leaves no mess behind: there is nothing left to clean when this poem ends. It is difficult to even gauge the perspective, supposing that you had such an absurd assignment (kill that English teacher!), because the poet looks out from so many vantage points: God’s (“nothing was chanced” ),the esthete- illusionist’s (“with gibbons and cranes to seem endless”), the self-reflection of the newly created human who is woven out of the “white sewing silk” that “appeared on my coat and hat,” and the resister’s, who protects his existence by invoking the right to feeling “so many misshapen wishes.” From the beginning of this poem in the creation to the end of it in a stubborn rebel consciousness, only seconds have elapsed. If that. The creation and the self-reflexive destruction may be simultaneous, taking no longer to appear and disappear than it takes the ouroburous to devour itself. So what does Dave Brinks, contemporary American poet, tell us that the Ecclesiastes don’t? He tells us that the self-devouring has speeded up since we now have the “spyglass” to make our cocoon bigger and more self- evident. Our worried self-importance has arrested us somewhere where we are “too tired to rest or return home.” Which is about right now. ♦ PAINTINGBYTONYMATTHEWS NOV 106-120.indd 120 NOV 106-120.indd 120 9/1/08 12:26:04 PM 9/1/08 12:26:04 PM