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wFriday, April 13, 2007


2012

THAT'S FUNNY, YOU DON'T LOOK AVANT-GARDE

You look like a bank clerk
Like a university professor
Like a meteorologist
You look like a Speed Racer fanatic
Like a stay-at-home dad
Like Jeff Daniels' stunt double
You look like a wall of books
You look like a can of beans
You look like a benefit of doubt

You look like this guy at the library
Who snort-laughed whenever I checked out Khlebnikov
Which reminds me, I don't look avant-garde either
No hat no pince-nez no theodolite no chignon

No cape with giant embroidered labia
No pennyfarthing three wheeler no lobster-powered surrey

You're this guy with a computer who writes things
While maintaining an absolutely conventional job family home and a car

A car! You have a car!
You have a car
Which burns gasoline
In its conventional engine.

In the real world this kind of going along to get along,
Resourcefulness and a persistent presence of mind
Which for all manner of arbitrary financial emotional reasons
Means taking advantage of petroleum-powered combustion engines...

In the real world having a car
Is a form of power
That makes life as we know it possible.

In poetryland, everyone knows how little we know of life
And therefore how changeable our conditions may prove,
And as far as that goes that's all right
But oh in poetryland a little learning is all you get,
And the science section.

In poetryland, where everyone is presumed guilty
Until proven a blameless perfect orchid of unending delight
Which happens to like two people every hundred years
For the duration of twenty to a hundred and eight lines,
Having a car invalidates your right to imagine
Being governed by your peers, people
Who read and write books and don't actually play golf
Or own voting machine companies.

In poetryland the loudest voices end up in the newspapers
And the quietest ones schedule the trade presses.

In poetryland as anywhere else in America
If you work and work your native humiliation
You too can be a great humiliator,
A superfund site of the soul.

You don't have to be rich.
You don't have to be cool (god no).
You certainly don't have to know anything
(You certainly don't).

Elvis misquoted Shakespeare,
But he omitted the attribution.

Stop worrying about everyone else,
About me, about the internet,
Which poets' cookies have all the chocolate chips.

Stop it.

Stop it.

Stop it.

Just shut up and stop it.

Give me one line
That's not a ferrofluid grenade
To remind me what your permawar's for.

I'll be over here
Next to this eight-foot wet paper bag I've closed you in
With a pencil
Waiting for you to write your way out.



[This poem was funded in part by a grant from a donor in Kansas.]


posted by Jordan #