8.8 Report to William Blake


by Eric Chaet

Blake, I won’t read
your work again
right now—
maybe never, or
maybe some time
when I don’t know
what to do.

I’m busy
my imagination:
how to redeem
my routines,
the normal attacks
on my splendid
& make
moves of
mental warfare:
poems, songs,
polemics, talk,
pictures, forms,

Your London was
a bloody town—
wars of 7, 30, 100 years
against the French, Algonquin, Spaniards,
Turks, Marathas, Afghans.
You went back there to work & burn yourself out
in acid, metal, & ink, & unconsumated scheming.

They wouldn’t buy your epics on London streets.
I doubt they could look right at you.
What you had done was imperfect, too—
too many characters—frantic, reeling—so baroque.

I barely caught your intent, the hope
& strategy in the midst of your fallen giants.
I flashed back then into the rhythms
of my own experience in the mundane shell.

What an advance of thought!
Yet how far from actually swaying the general will,
from ending the continuous, sporadic Armageddon,
the exploitation, fierce competition, suffering, bitter respites,
resignation, & fading without fulfillment of glorious possibilities.

My path is clearer for your strange lights,
resolution clear & bright.
I chew your protein, Blake, & spit out your gristle.

If we, still in the midst of the battle,
can struggle to sufficient wakefulness, & insist—
your moves may yet come to fruition, Blake.


Previously published in Sparks of Fire (USA),
As We Are (USA), Poet (India).


Picture: William Blake’s “Milton”


exemplar ± series
mental warfare series

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