Inspiration for Poems

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Personal / Stories / pk by Age / College Teacher /
1968-1969, @ K. 2001 08 29

My second year teaching at Colby the department chairman gave me a course in my field: seventeenth-century English poetry. I’ve already narrated how I lucked out and got the cream of the students the previous year: several exceptionally smart kids, the majority female. With one exception the English majors who attended my seventeenth-century course were very ordinary. I’ll let that exception speak for herself.


Lying here, a Pleiade,
I am the seven who see him.
Of Van Gogh- the stare. Swan
among swine swigging ale, dining on venison and galantine
a laughing buccaneer, leather and sash, hickory whip emblem and shield
tusche upon manila, assassin
smirk, eccentric sorcerer of brew and incantation, hung
by the cusps of the moon.
He has sung women in seven cities,
piercing wombs like provinces.

Nadine Macdonald

Pleiades context setter
thanx abovetopsecret

The author came to my office in February or March 1969 and handed that to me. Either that or the following was the first of a string of such. The spacing is my own digital interpretation of her handwriting.

2006 07 23 Whew, I just noticed, five years late, that I’d made a typo copying “Pleiade”! So sorry (but even with a misordered letter, what else could it have meant?) Here’s a neat link on Pleiades. (And please forgive further the arrogance of pointing out that the Pleiades, appearing in the sky at the beginning and end of the Greek sailing season, were associated with Oceanus, only a month after Catfarmer sent me a sterling coin commemorative of Poseidon, telling me that she, Catfarmer, associates me with that god! Wow.

thanx graphicly

For Paul Knatz

His abdomen and ankles, firm turn
of shoulder blade and forearm, gestures of
precision. I have seen portraits of this
in the cool blue conception of a Gainsborough.
The delicate anemic of the paintbrush and palatte.
The treasured grape fingered boy of lip
and whim. The sweet paning of eyes. A brow
like a bridge of metatarsal.
Thumbelia’s skeletal arch. Fossil
of a moth’s wing, white workings of a music box.
Somehow a vein of words between us – That subtle pallor
of marble deceived into life.

I am pleased to have received poems from girls as young as fourteen (and paintings from girls much younger. This girl also gave me drawings and collages. One of the drawings was of yours truly as Van Gogh.) But these poems are of unusual quality. (Actually, the drawing is pretty good too.)

thanx bandagedear

(Here I reproduce a Van Gogh self-portrait, but one of the oils. Picture one of the many pencil or charcooal sketches. See intensity note below.)

(Hey: shoot me if I don’t scan and mount that drawing here! Then you’d see her dedication too.)

I have lost touch with practically everybody. The last I heard from the here-sampled poet was from her graduate school. The prose on that occasion included the following: “You are like a good piece of prose — the spaces between a Hemingway sentence. And completely in character. Consistently in character. Magnificent creature …”

Thus, I do not know if she continued to compose. If the poems shown have been published (or revised), then you can identify her (and inform me. You may also tell her that I’ve posted them here.) Otherwise, with so much time passed, I choose not to identify her. Who knows how her feelings and judgments have changed?

It’s nice to be flattered whether you recognize the flattery as true or not. I do recognize what she suggests in part: the rest is from her own head and heart. And, of course, we could both be wrong.

“Swan among swine” expresses my own feelings exactly.

The “piercing wombs” part is true (though I never touched her). I have no recognition of the buccaneer part. I adore being thought of in terms of Gainsborough. One morning, blindly hungover from far too much of my friend’s scotch, I spent the morning starring at a reproduction of the Blue Boy on the lid of a cookie box in the guest room. That poor trapped kid. I’m glad someone else recognized his torment.

thanx all-paintings

Perhaps you need to be seeing a better reproduction of the Gainsborough than can be shown on the internet to see what I and Nadine saw: this is just a hint.

My favorite detail is the “marble/ deceived into life.”

Communication is highly unreliable but apparently it is not impossible.

Oh, hell, I’ll share this one too.


If you thought of me as Susanna, I should not mind a casual
love. For then I would construct a myth of sacrifice and innocence
to nurture me and you, my elder.

The girl thinks of herself and her surroundings in mythic terms. So do I. That’s good: at least for English majors. The results aren’t in on the relationship between mythology and survival: could be just another human pathology.

I hope you understand that I never proposed love, neither casual nor of any kind, to this passion-possessed girl. But that “sacrifice and innocence/ to nurture me/ and you, my elder” is wonderful.

Writing this today, remembering the devoted author and trying to remember the young man whose office she haunted, I also remember the circumstances under which I began to drift away from her adoration. She was exposed to my teaching of 1969. That included my thesis on meta-oxymoron in Shakespeare’s Sonnets. She was not exposed to pk, the deschooler, or to pk, the disciple of Bateson, Prigogine, semiotics. pk inventor of Macroinformation was only “half” present in the 1969 version of meta-oxymoron. When Bucky Fuller visited the campus, she was at the evening lecture. Only the fine arts faculty attended the afternoon tea, but the bulk of the faculty was present for the evening. When Bucky left, I couldn’t figure out why I was the only one still excited. Apparently no other converts were left behind (my conversion section hasn’t been completed yet, this link is a fragment). My student and my fellow teachers had heard Fuller without hearing him. It had been more “education,” something without meaning, something to pass the time, to get credit for.

I tried to discuss Fuller with this student. The situation was opaque. Had I not spent so much time with architecture nuts, running around Frank Lloyd Wright buildings as an undergraduate, maybe I would have been opaque to it too. It isn’t IQ, I assure you. Fuller himself claimed to have a merely “normal” IQ. I expect that mine is modest enough.

It’s staggeringly ironic that it’s the people who think of themselves, and are thought of, as highly spiritual who are impervious to the cutting edge of spirituality in our time. If they’ve given up on church, they may read Keats. They ought to be reading — and assisting with — string theory, with non-equilibrium thermodynamics. You all ought to be assisting with Macroinformation!

My one-time student’s letter from grad school was followed by a phone call. I was running FLEX. I tried to get her to read Illich. She was reading Norman O. Brown. I regarded the information as an assignment, dug it up. After Fuller and Illich, I couldn’t bear it. It was infantile.

I don’t know if she regarded Illich as an assignment. I never heard another word.

2013 05 30 I now realize that I have several “Nadine” images I should scan and mount: the Van Gogh self-portrait with dedication, and also an old photo she sent as a postcard. I don’t believe the image was of Nadine herself, not her mother, nor grandmother; I do believe it was how she saw herself, or, more importantly, how she wanted me to see her seeing herself: very old fashioned, very formal, very female.
You just wait’ll I get my scanner working once again.
I just reset a line break or two in Nadine’s poems, following my own sense. I should recheck her Mss, if I can find them.
I say Mss: do I have the originals? or did she give me copies? They’re in her hand.

I am not going to show all of the poetry presented to me as written to me: the competition is immature. I am going to share a few other poems given to me. I put them not under Stories, nor under Writing, but under Main: ’cause that’s how they arrived. One author is an award winning “poet.” The other is more publicly known these days for software.

Michelangelo was supposed to be so intense he frightened people. Even at 74 I still do. I still attract women like a flame a moth but also repel some: turn them away, panting. And instead of seeing themselves as neurotic, romantic, slightly pathological, they blame me as dangerous. Anyway, in this context, I adored Gail Bruce‘s original reaction to me in 1974: “not too intense” was her judgment then. Hooray, I was trying so hard to tone it down, to fool people, to be a salesman.

Quotes About pk

Stories by Age by Theme by Others

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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