Poetry is Dead, but Death is a Rorschach Test

Hamlet and Horatio in the cemetery, Eugene Delacroix

Poetry is dead, but at least it’s in good company.
The best of us are, you know, historically speaking.
History is a smorgasbord of things that were and
Are not; the precondition of was is will not be.
Optimism is a war on reality. Fatality of expectation,
This new modality. And the first supplication
Is only that unsaccharine truth. Youth is ration
Of flack and sin, and sooth is that passion,
A flashed when of duration packed with was.
This fatal because deflates into simple said,
Those flat and unfed hopes; poetry is dead,
But is death only a kind of metamorphosis
To being mostly memory, a shadowy mitosis
From one into many, into footprint and word
And ink blot, spot and stain and clot? — Your lot
Is the rough patch you left on the world. Hatch,
This hatching world that needs a canvas to match.
Fragment or figment and figment is pigment—
The half-life of art: time is vapid process of change,
Arbitrary and of essence, neither a gaining nor a loss—
A coin toss of importance. Event is that big disappointment,
Shrugged anointment. Laugh at silly ideas like poetry’s death
Or tragedy’s—these invented calamities are only an
Extravagant overstating of life’s unfurling process:
Time sees to it that all things become obsolete—
Not a defeat of things that were, but a transmigration
Patient with process; we winkle importance from all design,
And nothing loved is ever fully discarded. Love is sensation
Without absolute cessation, sans diatribe, bribeless
Even with a kingdom; love is that immutable symptom,
For the suppression of which nothing can be prescribed.
Tenderness makes immortals out of all, stretches out
And extends each thing loved ‘til the end of the lover; so
Attention is the gift of eternal life. Poetry is borrowed sensation,
A lend on bruising sentiment, a penniless vocation
That will not quite die, for all its abuse, for all its disuse;
Its uses are many and its naming is loose. Poetry’s dead
But what precisely was it? And can you pronounce dead
That which was a nebulous nil, a shrug at definition?
Attrition is the precondition of genre; genre is tradition.
Long live that which adapts itself, deceives us and receives
Our petty condolences, steals sorrow from him that grieves;
To grieve is to formalize death; where death heaves itself in,
It merely retrieves, and leaves its signs of having been,
And he who believes it is absolute end denies memory,
Sees retrieval as theft, mourns what was and denies what’s left.