ailing child but
viewing Valparaiso's pride. Your face was
always saddest when you smiled. You smiled as every
doctored moment lied. You lie with
orphans' parents, long
As close as coppers, yellow beans still
line Mapocho's banks. It
leads them to the sea;
entwined on rocks and saplings, each
new vine recalls that
dawn in 1973 when
every choking, bastard weed grew wild.
I could write a book about this poem and the newslist lore surrounding it. I make no promises but I'll try to stick to the facts.
DPK was a member of the Poets.org and Gazebo workshops. Nothing else is known about the author. In referring to the poet people use feminine pronouns because--get this--the writing comes up as more likely that of a female than a male on Gender Genie. We do know that she has designated all of her work, past, present and future, as licensed under Creative Commons, such that anyone can use it for any purpose.
"Beans" first appeared on Poets.org, where critics were impressed by its acrostic curginic form. Later, on Gazebo, "Shit Creek Review" editor Paul Stevens was struck by the core ambiguity of the poem. This remark turned out to be prescient; people on both sides of the political divide have claimed it as sympathetic to their cause. Indeed, the poem can serve as a litmus test, the theory being that the more difficulty a viewer has appreciating this duality the more radical that viewer's politics. Unfortunately, all of this ambiguity is lost in the video below.
As with Maz's "Studying Savonarola", this source has covered the poem's technical merits well enough. Again, we have in "Beans" a piece that sparkles in performance.
As far as we know, DPK doesn't pursue publication. From conversations with them I know that two prestigious editors, one of a magazine, one an e-ziner, expressed a keen interest in publishing "Beans" until they were told that everyone was free to do so. One said he'd not seen contemporary verse of this ilk. The other managed no more than a "Wow!" I won't dwell on the possibility that neither of the two greatest poems of this century will have been published in print while their authors were alive.
The last seven words complete the experience.
"...when every choking bastard weed grew wild."
Before them, the sounds include gentle alliteration (e.g. "as close as coppers"), consonance ("September came like winter's") and, especially, assonance ("recalls that dawn"). Now we hear a change, marked by three iterations of the lead in "when every choking bastard weed", as trochaic words ("choking bastard") magically turn into iambs, culminating in the "Ta Da!" ending spondee: "grew wild". The lack of repetitions sounds like a typing test.
"The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog."The last five words stress sounds from the five different vowels:
i) the long "o" of "choking";
ii) the short "a" in "bastard";
iii) the long "e" of "weed";
iv) the long "u" sound in "grew"; and,
v) the long "i" in "wild".
As for "y" being an occasional vowel, it is in the sixth last word ("every"). As for "w" and "r" being considered consonants despite being vowel sounds, they are in the seventh ("when") and sixth ("every") last words. The poem loses its composure as the speaker loses hers.
Beans (D.P. Kristalo) on Vimeo.
We judge poems as great not because we can remember them but because we cannot forget them. If I check with you in twenty years I suspect that you will still be able to complete this sentence:
"Your face was always saddest..."
Next: "Antiblurb" by A.E. Stallings
- "Studying Savonarola" by Margaret A. Griffiths
- "Beans" by D. P. Kristalo
- "Antiblurb" by A. E. Stallings
- "How Aimée remembers Jaguar" by Eric Hopson
- "There Are Sunflowers in Italy" by Didi Menendez
- "Auditing the Heart" by Frank Matagrano