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Art History

Randall Couch


I.

We remember the new, not the good.

This is history as aphorism.


If an aphorism’s a proposition with a horizon,

what is the horizon of new?

Newness is endless.

Poetry’s first work: the conversation

of names.

So why hope to write

what has never been written of any woman?


Do I praise her because she was good?

Do I write well of her?

Though I speak with the tongues

of men and of angels

and have not novelty

will she be forgotten?


II.

In each first night we sense the arrow’s shadow,

yet all readers keep appointments with the past.


So why no value in a second kiss?

The innocent eye sees nothing.

What conversation doesn’t loop

and turn, and by analogy create us?


Beauty is only a promise we return

to redeem.


What was promised under the myrtles

is fulfilled among mimosa clouds.


What each discovers

becomes ours.


III.

The dead

are that which we know.

In the sonata,

the aria da capo,

the sampled beat,

we recapitulate.

In time the living

remember anew the good.

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