The worst will be found toward the end of the book
When you’re scanning the lines of a weighty anthology.
Centuries have shaken what works can be shook,
and what’s old is refined—and I make no apology.
Angst-ridden ramblings, so fashionably bleak
Start appearing somewhere past the middle, I fear
With those modernist psyches, whose raggedly weak
and depressing confessions sling mud in the ear.
Like the scribblers of Suicide, brimming with bile
or the autodestructive self-pitying boozer,
whose quaint observations enshrining the vile
are a crime against life and an art for the loser.
You ideologues, with your axes to grind,
propagandizing causes in militant styles
ought to stay in the hills, where the struggle is defined,
and spare us the old dialectical wiles.
The Feminist scribe, with her sex for a mouth,
Ever pressing her case, for fallopian reasons
Grows saggingly sterile. Her muses fly south
with the passing of harvests and goddessless seasons.
Absurdists, surrealists, and nihilist mystics
whose hymns to destruction make glory of chaos
should leave the black humor to God and ballistics.
Your poems, like Judas, are bound to betray us.
The Freudian flirt (whose neuroses abound),
And the Jungian shamans (their animas, too),
ought to rest on their couches. Why should they be found
By the wellsprings of Spirit, whose guidance is true.
The art-lover’s lines gild a frame around Knowledge.
Their poems are like an art history course.
As they flit past the idols they studied in college
their name-dropping odes are a grand tour-de-force.
Sixties drug-revelers, love beads a-jingle
And brothers dashiki-clad, howling at Nixon
no longer strike chords in my soul. Not a single sitar lick
nor visions of hippie-chick vixen.
You rhymers and rappers of rhythms in sample
Whose words like a kick-drum send shock through old Whitey
Now cease from your chanting. The genre is ample.
Your gangstering paeans are too fly-by-nighty.
Revived Roman legions, who relish things Latin;
Your martial convictions inspire the hero.
But while you are looking for cities to flatten,
remember: old Julius was nobler than Nero.
The theme of World Peace. This crops up near the ending:
a desperate hope for New-Agers and liberals,
who cherish a dream of reality-bending
Through networking, magic, and energized crystals…
But what can be shaken shall perish, forgotten.
Anthologies show us that truth is enduring.
All praises and laurels shall prove misbegotten.
The Word become flesh is the most reassuring.
So I leave the anthology, closing its cover.
Three-quarters at least seemed like nonsense to me.
Yet still, I admit, I’m a poetry lover.
Let time do its work and in future—we’ll see…