Mennonite Poetry Home | Elmer Wiens



Chaos Theory

Chaos is aperiodic long term behaviour in a deterministic system that exhibits sensitive dependence on initial conditions — Steven Strogatz
Both of us say there are laws to obey / But frankly I don't like your tone — Leonard Cohen

Why are there so many poems? Because, there are so many words.
Wrong answer!
Because where one ends up, depends on how one starts; or,
when one ends, depends where one starts; or,
how one ends, depends on where and how one starts—
OK. I get the picture. No. That is just the first word in the poem, the starting word.

Now let's do the second word, since you've written the first.
Not so many words to use now, are there?
How does the second word depend on the first?
Depends on what the first word was. That was the question!
Look (hear, feel, smell, taste). I start with a line or sentence, and then go from that.
Sure. Just replace the word "word" in the above with "line or sentence."
Or, replace "word" with "stanza or paragraph."

I don't start at the beginning of the poem.
I was talking about how, where, when, (why,) you start.
I don't use any rules. A list of random words is not a poem.
I'm not aware of my rules. The English literature graduate students can figure them out for you.
I start with a concept (picture, other poem(s), etc). Yes. Repeat the above exercise.

I start with a metaphor (simile, metonym) in mind.
OK. Heard any good ones lately?
A cloud of fish. No. Reversal of up and down.
The universe of my heart. No. Mirror reversal of inside and outside.

The stag at Eve. That's been done.
Poetry is the eroticism of language.
Eroticism is a metaphor of animal sexuality—the poetry of the body.
Now you're quoting the Nobel Laureate, Octavio Paz.

Jorie Graham. Hunger for speculation and metaphysical. Watch the plagiarism.
Jorie Graham. Sitting on a donkey at the edge / of a cliff, beating the hell out of it.
Didn't you do that in class / Thinking that language is an ass?
Don't. Rhyme implies copulation, possible perverted.
Now you're quoting Octavio Paz.

You're obsessed with Jorie Graham.
Only since I moved on from Julia Kristeva's chora.
Are you at a strange attractor's fractal? No. So, stop.

© Elmer Wiens




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