Original poem reprinted online here: "Apple Blossoms at Petal-Fall with Li Po" by Kevin Stein
Originally read: April 8, 2013
More information about the Poet: Kevin Stein
When I first read this poem, I looked up Non cogito, ergo sum which seemed like a familiar term, but there was something off about it. So I open up that google translator thing and I write on the side, "I don't think, therefore I am." And I'm like, oh what an interesting allusion to Descartes radical doubt theory. Then I read the next line, "I don't think, therefore I am" and my reaction -- well I feel I fooled myself into looking something up and not gathering through context first.
But this poem tries to be out of context of itself, but is all connected. For example even if the scene is different, there's the same pronoun or vice versa. The poem tries to escape in the moment and "don't think, therefore I am," but falters a bit with each stanza -- and that's where the interest, for me, occurs.
So where is the failures in each stanza. In the first stanza, the speaker uses Latin to describe his general feeling of being at "Apple Blossoms at Petal-Fall" but in the next stanza, the speaker is taken out of the moment with the realization that ,"But that's not Mandarin!" Past me wrote that this was humorous, and it is because the poem works of perpendicular trajectory. I think I'm going to coin this term...perpendicular trajectory...okay. This is where the poem goes at a fast pace along the different angles that there's a slight regret, but fast forward momentum.
Like in stanza three where the speaker addresses the metaphor about dusts being angelic. The metaphor is "A fool's errand" for the we who are awake in bed. There's a sense of closeness with the we here.
Then the sentiment changes to"we grow lonely though not alone" in the next stanza and the cloud of happiness changes to "in a cloud of her own making." Note how the speaker takes a side here -- away from the blame and the focus is on the her.
Of course the focus is on the her -- the poem is so conscious that the spaeker notes this, "I know what I said. I said her." The speaker is on such a trajectory that there's nothing the speaker can do except to redirect the momentum but include the "her" along for the ride, "You'd like to know what I make / of her secrets, also our."
And at this point, I'm not thinking of this any further. But past me looked deeper into the actions and ideas, "Further the poem goes poet gets lost in his/her own interpretations and allusions as Li Po get's .... " I can't read my own writing here. So I think another way of putting it is that the speaker is getting further lost. Actually, I think differently now. The speaker is finding something each stanza about each stanza and, yes, lost to the overall meaning, but finding little things to be snarky about.
So the images in the next stanza twist human, and nature elements together, "warm from the oven of our unmaking, / soon these limbs winter bare." These twits is in regards to the secrets. And as I, the reader, would try to untangle the metaphors and meanings within the lines (domestic facade internal when the external is tangible and nothing there -- both bad elements in a relationship -- just my thoughts what the metaphors can be), the speaker stops the train of thought "Just don't"
Just don't, what? Don't look too much into the poem, the fabled relationship, the individual images, the lines that lead to a perpendicular trajectory of angles, the mistakes of the self. Stop. As the poem, "Don't Think."
Which then refers to the line in the stanza which is a riff on Descartes.