The Seven Very Liberal Arts: A Crown of Sonnets
The classical liberal arts are seven in number and were the basic skills believed necessary for success in philosophical and theological studies.
—Herrad of Landsberg (1180 AD).
A moment's peace from you, old Earth—enough's
enough! Your gorgeousness is still in season,
still clobbering philosophy and reason
in one delicious blow. Show me your stuff,
and dump "The Liberal Arts", that old flim-flammery
that goes like this (my drop-dead parlor-trick):
Logic, Grammar, Music, Rhetoric,
Geology, Arithmetic, Astronomy.
They're very easy to recite, but hard
as hell to live with. Ever try to dance
with Logic, unzip its crotchety pants,
get sexy deconstructing Kierkegaard?
Unpromising. Like bathing with a cat.
And no one needs to write a book on that.
My dear Professor, write a book on me—
devote a chapter to my graceful lines,
and how my every syllable defines
the dips and rises of my prosody.
Come scan me carefully—and when you're through
deal with my feet, iambic and trochaic,
pronounce them perfect (if a touch archaic);
then taste the syllables in my haiku.
Scribble suggestions slowly down my spine
with your intense, exploratory care,
and punctuate, with sharp intakes of air
the way my staves and strophes intertwine.
And then, Professor, sign me fore and aft,
as if I were a promising first draft.
If I can promise you a frosty draft
of Bud Lite when we get there, can we go
to Nashville? Kansas City? Branson Mo?
I'm craving country music—that whole raft
of anthems from the boys who do it best,
star-twangled-banners from the girls who strayed
and lied and loved, and finally got laid
by some hot cowpoke in a leather vest.
Been thinking, off and on, of Toby Keith,
the way his fingers pluck that blue guitar;
I dream up dirty movies (he's the star)
on how those fingers feel from underneath—
but never mind; it's high time we departed.
Get in the car. Shut up. Don't get me started.
Shut up. Shut up, shut up, shut up. Okay?
You're not my lucky star, you are a damn
black hole. I do not love you, Sam-I-am.
Get lost. Scram. Beat it. Go away.
Clear out your retrosexual groceries—
that loaf of bread, the jug of wine—right now;
and as for your adoring little thou,
just watch her kick you in the fantasies.
I get the sense you're painfully aware
that you're a sorry-ass. The Big Dumpee.
How sad. Let me extend my sympathy
by offering you a simple little prayer:
May your next cocktail be a Molotov,
and everything that you hold dear fall off.
Hold it!—hold everything—I'm falling off
the edge (there goes my equilibrium—
so long!) because of you and your sublime
topography. You're dangerous enough
to cause a tremor, a gigantic lurch,
a nine on my internal Richter scale.
You pulse with something seismically male
and I'm no safer on my little perch
than in a shack along the San Andreas.
How can I ever rise above the rubble
of what you've done to me—stay out of trouble
when aftershocks will certainly betray us?
A tougher question than I bargained for;
remember, I am molten at the core.
Mmm-mm, it melts the very core of me
to listen to the cheerful clink and jingle
in your deep pockets. I begin to tingle
when you declare that I'm your chickadee
and you're my guaranteed annuity,
my piggy bank, my Google IPO;
and should you strike out in a year or so,
I could become your 501(c)3.
A little bit of Warren Buffetry
is all it took—a little real estate,
a tiny merger—to emancipate
those lovely megabucks. I do agree
the time has clearly come for you to lay
your Freddie Mac against my Fannie Mae.
Frédéric Chopin, Fanny Mendelssohn,
Claude Debussy—when you woke up at night
(synapses snapping wildly) did you write
your nocturnes then? And was the woozy moon
spreading its silver fingers over yours,
convincing you to give in to your will,
your High Romantic fantasies, until
the swollen stars were winking like voyeurs?
How intimate were you with the coiled wires
underneath the piano's lid—as note
by note you wove a lovely antidote
for our enormous, orbiting desires?
Did you suspect how much it would be worth
to bring one moment's peace to this old earth?