ode to the ink that runs



why don't poets
kill each other
anymore?

it's been too long since the buggering to death of percy bysshe shelly
by henry wadsworth longfellow, and even that was an accident.

i can only remember bukowski
with that bottle opener in sixty-two -- it was a good reading,
the way he bifurcated that beatnik's sternum,
and the ribs swung open like hands
about to clap. and he just stood there, that nameless beatnik,
blood slapping the ground, and he took it.
he died with his mouth shut. no last simile.
not even a growl for the ages. he was only bewildered.
that's why you always got fucked up, bukowski.
you were lonely for someone good to kill.

you're dead, bukowski,
and i'm yelling at your dead body.
this is what we call APOSTROPHE,
defined as the direct address of an absent
or imaginary person, or of a personified abstraction.

apostrophe is out of fashion these days.

i would riddle your grave with slugs, bukowski,
son of mogh, and fill the holes with pissed vodka,
and dream that i drank you to death. i'd lie
to all comers how i slew you, rusty soup-can's edge
underlining your jawbone, red ink, yawning and scrawled.
red ink. you son of a bitch who never rewrote a word.
i'd lie that i drank out your arteries and took
your powers for mine.

disputes between poets don't get resolved anymore.
we publish them instead. we mewl wittily back
and forth in respectable publications.
what we need is some ONCE AND FOR ALL.
nobody tells me to capitalize the first-person singular
while he's busy clutching at exposed bowel tissue.
sabers in the moonlit quad, that's my motto.

i should've been a pair of jagged jaws,
rending across the flanks of wildebeestes.

instead i'm sipping havarti at the fondue fountain,
listening to us ruminate: on shortlists,
on conspicuous absences from shortlists,
on innovations in reedless microtonal oboe jazz.
over water crackers we ruminate on feng shui,
reflexology, derrida, the tragic persecution of falun gong.
we live in the moment. we are careful.
there in the moment we flabbily congratulate ourselves.
our poetics, our CRAFT, how very hard we try.

and we start not at unpredicted noises,
nor do we whirl when rivals take the stage.
you've been dead too long, bukowski:
we punctuate no readings with the breaking of
bottles on table lips. our fingers are weak
with the holding of stemmed glasses.
we lack the strength to draw at measured paces.

a poet's gun. it should be serious as lead.
a piece heavy to lift, but irresponsible, and black,
black as the syphilis on lucifer's cock.
and arabesqued, perhaps, with the scrapings of a long nail
during bloodshot nights where the gun is pointed in
turn to the ceiling, the door, and the cat,
and the roof of the mouth, and the door,
and the ghosts in the hallway, dead-drunk,
barn-broad, bleary,
the bloated dreams that make
for easy aim.

Not once and for all perhaps, but taking contention to blows is culturally valid in some places.
I am not Inuit so, as I understand it, in traditional Inuit cultures contention between individuals in their communities can be resolved by a contest of wits. The winner, identified by dint of audience applause, gets to take a chunk from the loser's scalp. Unresolved contention is expensive in a small isolated community with a climate which is hostile. Community life relies on cooperation, so troublemakers with too much lip and without the wit or recognised argument to take out their opponent have scalps scarred with ill advised contention.

Check out the film Atanarjuat, (Fast Runner). For a similar epic battle but with fewer words.

Perhaps this kind of strategy could be the next big thing for 'Reality' media: Participants and directors notched if their approval rating drops lower than competitors. Like Ping, spanked for being the last duck back to his boat on the Yellow Yangtse River.

As an E2 poet it is probably unwise to node this practice.
I can imagine one of us poor fools stepping away from the next nodermeet with an exemplary haircut.

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