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Friday 2 November 2012

Ezra Pound at the Stock Exchange

Later he would blame the screens,
the way they'd mesmerised him. Not
the screens themselves, maybe, not --
no certainly not -- their one-eyed stare
straight into his eyes, and not their
flicker that might try odd times
to grab a brain wave passing by...
No, none of these: the culprits were the figures
and the way they danced and flounced across 
the screen, they way their hips would wiggle
and their thick lips pout. The way he's think
they were the front row of The Windmill
or The Follies in their prime. And he
in his own private box, could sing:-

    You can hear the girls declare
    "He must be a Millionaire."
    You can hear them sigh and wish to die,
    You can see them wink the other eye
    At the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo.

Figures of fun: the dollar, yen and pound
among them, skeletons seen in the round,
seen by one small part of his fantastic mind
that put the other parts to sleep, allowed
no doubts or caveats. he'd brush them all aside:
I'm sticking tails back on the donkeys
at a party, he'd protest... but more than that,
I'm not completely blindfolded - I sense where donkey
is and where he's going next. I have a nose for such 
things, such I cannot fail.And more than that:
the party that I'm at is MINE! Come join!
The future's all in futures and derivatives.

    But thinking pounds had put this in his mind:-
    His mind had stretched and stretching, had become
    The World's Sargasso Sea,
    a calm stretch in a frenzied ocean
    where bright ships left you this or that in fee. *

But it wasn't just for self that he'd forgo all meals,
would work all night. He was the posse out to clean
the town for all posterity, the Tommy tangled in
the barbed wire on The Somme, the hero of his people, out
to make his mark. God for John Bull, the Kingdom and
this Bank! he'd cry. God for the killing that
we'll make! God save The White House, Prince Harry and 
the Pope! This time it will be different! This time
we cannot fail! and so he played another million
on an outside chance that cotton would come up again...
In fact, he saw it more as knickers coming down,
for figures had a sexual charge and mone was orgasmic.
As counterweight he payed out twenty thousand grand 
to say that concrete would be hitting a new low.

    With Futura has no man a house of good stone
    Stone cutter is kept from his stone
    weaver is kept from his loom
    with FUTURA
    wool comes not to market
    FUTURA is a murrain, futura
    blunteth the needle in the maid's hand
    and stoppeth the spinner's cunning.
    Corpses are set to banquet
    at behest of FUTURA. ***

Each time he lost, he laughed it off with all 
the confidence of one with little evidence. So weak
was it in fact that he would laugh again and sing 
the mantra that was going round the bank: 
What you see is all there is! Why should 
he ask for more? Intuitive predictions had got 
him where he'd been. He would be there again.

    So if there's nothing in the whole of this,**
    nothing that is quite my own, 
    still this is me, he told himself.

No matter what you're down you double up next time
around -- and add a constant for your profit said
the small part for his brain, now helplessly
intoxicated by thoughts of wealth to come, I only
need to get it right the once> Come join me -- and play on!
* and ** are (slightly) modified quotes from Ezra Pound's Portrait d'une Femme . *** is a passage from Canto XLV. Here "FUTURA" is my word. Pound's was USURA, from usury, meaning the charging of exorbitant interest.

Written for dVerse Poets: Meeting the Bar for which Anna Montgomery has set us to write on Postmodern (High and Low Art)


Rachna Chhabria said...

Dave, even the poems of yours have a story hiding inside their bellies.

Mary said...

Well, that was a fascinating tale, Dave!

kaykuala said...

You've run the whole gamut of playing around in the market, the traditional, the futures and derivatives. And when their luck run out they laugh it off. No, not really. They cry lots of times. Only that they never declare. Only when they make a kill the whole world knows! Great take!


Brian Miller said...

dude, this is fabulous....great story telling...my fav part begins, I'm sticking tails back on the donkeys
at a party, he'd protest...dang those one eyed screens as well enabling us....really cool progressions in this...was thinking internet porn up front and then you just went from there....i guess the stock exchange is much the same...

Unknown said...

This is erudite and scathing; it made me long for an art film version of The Smartest Guys in the Room. The allusions and undergirding of Pound work extremely well. I often think corporate greed functions on unadulterated fantasy and ego.

Wolfsrosebud said...

... I do believe you've nailed it Watson

Anonymous said...

Dave = this is a wonderful poem. You know I grew up in DC (as in Washington, D.C.) and would often drive by Saint Elizabeth's mental hospital where I beleive Pound lived for many years - big red brick walls - I should check as I may be wrong, but I am pretty sure he was there - your poem brought back those big red brick walls for sure, and the stock exchange too - you used tobe able to go on the floors--all those guys marching around shouting - wonderful poem. k.

Daydreamertoo said...

LOL... Well this really got into the nitty gritty of it all.
Loved this:
' In fact, he saw it more as knickers coming down, for figures had a sexual charge and mone was orgasmic. As counterweight he payed out twenty thousand grand to say that concrete would be hitting a new low. '
What a fabulous read. You really nailed this prompt Dave.

John (@bookdreamer) said...

Clever stuff in weaving the quotes into the poem

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Unusual subject but delightful and surprising. Very appropriate to the present Usura changed into Futura.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I have always found Ezra Pound hard going Dave - you have obviously mastered the art of understanding him better than I have.

Grace said...

Creative weaving of poems with your story Dave ~ I wish my mind can stretched like the sea ~

Beachanny said...

I took a course on Yeats and Eliot from a man named Baker whose own mind was cracking from his own genius thoughts - he left so many tell tale traces of Pound on my mind, but none did make total sense, except that both of them got electrocuted to the point of memory loss. I feared mental illness so much of my life because I heard the horror stories of asylums. Yes, Pound spent a lot of time at St. Elizabeth's. But his genius is unquestioned and his imprint on other's of genius as well. Your poem unfolds worlds within worlds with your own erudition which always holds me in awe.

Cloudia said...

all very elevated-naughty to a clueless colonial, alas!

Aloha from Waikiki,
Comfort Spiral

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Dick said...

This is excellent, Dave, one of your very best. The synthesis of Pound and narrator is seamless and the overall picture is so bright and vivid. Fine stuff!

Ygraine said...

A truly engrossing read, Dave.
I particularly like the way you've woven the quotes into the fabric of this piece.
This is Ezra Pound made simple!
I always learn so much from your posts.
Thank you so much :)