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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Philip Whalen - If You're So Smart, Why Ain't You Rich?

I need everything else 

Anything else 


But I have nothing 

Shall have nothing 

    but this 

Immediate, inescapable 

    and invaluable 

No one can afford 


Being made here and now 


       (Seattle, Washington 

                      17 May, 1955) 




Concise (wooden) 


Behind them, the garage door 


(Paint sold under a fatuous name: 

"Old Rose" 

       which brings a war to mind) 


And the mind slides over the fence again 

Orange against pink and green 



Returned of its own accord 

It can explain nothing 

Give no account 


What good? What worth? 




You have less than a second 

       To live 

To try to explain: 

Say that light 

       in particular wave-lengths 

       or bundles wobbling at a given speed 

Produces the experience   

Orange against pink 

Better than a sirloin steak? 

A screen by Korin? 


The effect of this, taken internally 

The effect   

               of beauty 

                              on the mind 


There is no equivalent, least of all 

These objects 

Which ought to manifest 

A surface disorientation, pitting 

Or striae 

Admitting some plausible interpretation 


But the cost 

Can't be expressed in numbers 

dodging between 

       a vagrancy rap 

       and the newest electrical brain-curette 

Eating what the rich are bullied into giving 

Or the poor willingly share 

Depriving themselves 


More expensive than ambergris 

       Although the stink   

               isn't as loud. (A few 

Wise men have said, 

       "Produced the same way . . . 

       Vomited out by sick whales.") 

Valuable for the same qualities 

       Staying-power and penetration 

I've squandered every crying dime.