1. You need to polish up on your Netspeak, Jeff. Btw: that last poem you forwarded to me (while I do appreciate the thought behind the gesture… although, wait: what was the thought behind the gesture?) was self-parodying doggerel anchored to one silly pay-off pun (“chrome attic”) and some gratuitous high school French. Perhaps you’ll say, “but Steve, Barbara Guest was an award-winning Poet!” And I’ll say: yeah, exactly. What a racket.

      “(Imagination) is something fluid which can twist itself into a poem,” once said the poem’s ejectress, Babs, uncorking a confusedly alcoholic metaphor for us. What a mess, that apothegm.


      1. Now we are getting somewhere. I like Hughes and Sexton, if more the latter. In fact, I have written poems–well, one in particular–that a literate friend has likened to Sexton. I’ll send it to you privately if you like. I don’t care for that 9/11 poem either.


              1. So look, Jeffy. Here’s how it’s done. Ja?

                I wrote this poem as part of a cycle of poems I wrote about Berlin, for the website of a famous English-language bookstore over here. I gave them a poem every week for I don’t-remember-how-many months (then had to stop because it was becoming too time-consuming). The cycle of poems follows, I think, six or seven characters… among them a Gay Brit and a bi Californian in an uneasy couple (very Berlin). This is one of the poems about those two… and I defy you (he said, with his hubristic sneer) to steer me to a recent poem (by you or anyone) with richer, sleeker, more solidly-constructed language. Knock it if you can.


                Saturday, 20. October 2007

                *dante and ted*


                dante and ted hire bikes, buy
                cheap wop wine, pedal hard for
                Wannsee through miles of kilometers sleeked
                by fog’s drugged
                sneeze of light, slimey-soft, a
                convoluted cloth wiping
                thoughts on their bright brown, dark blue
                eyeglassed eyes; thoughts
                soon lost to the night traffic of
                Friday: time and its tired
                crisis, the thirty-niners and their
                out-sourced inner
                lives. they glide
                on lamplit awe around the
                unwrinkled face of the
                lake, joke and brake
                at a moon-smashed copse,
                splurge in turns over shivers of
                warmth-raped gentian gasping
                oh my god.

                after which they re-embark,
                wobbling on. they see

                battery-lit foxes rear up
                along the tarmac like hung
                partisans; see
                swallows sharp as shattered
                gramophone platters heaved
                over the treetops in a feat
                of strength. they park

                where the bike path rises
                to a sudden rail crossing and
                need the drink.

                (dante for his shyness and ted)
                (to think)


  1. Jeff!

    I will not try to figure out why you are sending me emails, still… and now, specifically, poems. But my honest answer to your question, as to whether this poem does it for me, is: catshit. This poem is catshit. It’s too long, too fussy, lapses into the gratuitously oblique and attempts to get too fancy, with its nine (groan) movements and arcane Egyptological refs, while, conversely, expressing itself with cellar-cardboard-stale language. Show me a sentence in that text heap that indicates a musical ear; lead me to an arresting or otherwise inventive metaphor. If you think you can, the joke is on ya. The person who stacked those sentences is, or was, literate enough and intelligent but also fundamentally lacking in Poetic Talent (whatever the state of his grantwriting chops). Writing is hard, Poetry is hardest. The average reader, it strikes me, hasn’t made a habit of reading closely enough to pick knowledgeably from among pyrite, honey-coated platinum, catshit or dumpster fire (the four classical categories of Poetry). Which is why so many are so woefully under-discouraged from wasting words from the Universal Text Fund (it’s a finite fucking resource, Jeff) on pointless anti-splendor like the icky thing you sent me.

    PS And (eg) THIS is such a cheap/tasteless attempt at glopping on some gravitas by upping the emotional ante (with a deeply crappy sack of simile and fundamentally dishonest storytelling: do we really think such children would be “quiet in their mother’s arms”?)… that it’s very nearly offensive:

    of mothers and fathers who vanished
    in the flames remorselessly
    spreading claiming even
    frightened children who lay quiet
    in their mother’s arms, now borne into

    oblivion, like swimmers swept out to sea
    by the surging current.

    That is NOT the work of a real Poet; not even half of one.


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