Ezra Pound Reflects on the Los Angeles Riots, 1992
Wotan sleeps in the house of Freya
surrounded by boulders and flames.
And he said: “Long is one night,
Long are two nights” (sounded phonically),
and he said: “But how shall I hold out three?”
That was Longfellow
(that old potato),
in l844 or 1845
and Emerson said he lived like a king
around the time
Courbet was denounced
(if he was denounced)
for painting The Stone Breakers.
It lacked spiritual content
or so the critics claimed,
but he said, “Je ne peux pas peindre un ange
parce que je n’enai jarnais un vu.”
He made his own exhibition in a shed
and distributed A Manifesto of Realism.
That was at the time
of the Paris Exhibition.
Later Lincoln wrote: “You can have
no conflict without being yourselves
but that was before
the South seceded
and Sherman marched
to the sea.
“Strike the tent,”
Lee murmured as he died,
with Grant already
in the White House.
“Anger is short madness,”
said Horace. I think not
of the helicopters
or the National Guard on every street.
As Mary Siewert said,
“I never thought I would be glad
to be living in a police state.”
After the warm spring rain,
the hills don
their poppy covered shawls.
When at night I go to sleep
National Guardsmen watch do keep.
Did He who made the lamb
make thee? Has He carved
both madness and bliss?
Let not the fear
cover up the fear.
The cat is king in his jungle yard.
Let go of thy talent
I say, let go.
Release thy genius
that flowers in its place.
Open thyself wide,
let the poem emerge.
This is all there is.
There is nothing else.
Patricia L. Scruggs is a Southern Californian by way of Colorado, Wyoming and Alberta. Her work has appeared in Calyx, Rattle, Spillway, OnTheBus, and the anthologies 13 Los Angeles Poets, Deliver Me, and So Luminous the Wildflowers. She is a retired high school art teacher.