Art This, Not That
(for Susan Sontag)
“Art is secreted, not constructed,” she observed.
Tree-sap, teardrop, spittle, sweat –
Not pitched tent, igloo, lean-to, yurt.
Not pre-fab framework for a thought;
Not the net that traps and grapples with the fish,
But the wriggling, hook-pierced word itself made flush.
She wrote, “Art is seduction, not rape.”
No steel cage from which there’s no escape;
Neither cannon, nor club,
But a steed, and a mask, and a cape;
Not a gallon of wine – just the gem of a vine
Newly plucked: a sweet, sun-ripened grape;
Not a spent bunch of uprooted, paper-wrapped blooms,
Supine on their stems, with their petals agape,
But a blossom-lit, pine-needled bed in an arbor,
Enveloped by dusk’s fragrant drape.
To a Critic
Don’t flay the lion
For not knowing how to chirp;
Celebrate his roar.
Don’t savage the thrush
For the absence of a snarl;
Delight in her song.
Passionate and tender, still,
Here I sit, adoring you –
Loving you as driving rain,
As Stonehenge shelf, as redwood bark;
Loving you as castle moat,
As swelling sea, as dungeon’s dark;
Loving you as leopard’s leap,
As dragon-flame, as potter’s kiln;
Loving you as Everest’s peak,
Shipbuilder’s teak, and warbler’s trill;
Loving you as python’s throat,
As cobra’s gaze, and power drill;
Loving you as Croesus gold,
Explorers’ ways, and Potter’s Field;
As sound as grizzly’s snowbound sleep;
As sure as goodness is revealed.
You blaze in my grasp;
I cling to your heat.
Cauterized by purest flame,
No longer cinder,
I heal into light.
Jack Schwarz serves as both Spiritual Life Director and Chair of the Cultural Council at Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare. Affiliated with several medical facilities, he provides an interfaith approach to pastoral care. Long ago, Jack taught Writing and Literature at two Ohio universities; subsequently, he toiled as a ghostwriter for the Ohio General Assembly. A former synagogue president and Jewish Community Chaplain for central Ohio, Jack also has enthusiastically supported animal protection groups and wildlife centers.
Jack Schwarz is the father of Hannah Stephenson, also an EIL poet!