Verse on the Rocks


Eight American Poets: an anthology

 

Cryptography prior to the modern age
was effectively synonymous with encryption,

the conversion of information from a readable state
to apparent nonsense.
Wikipedia: Cryptography

Berryman, Bishop, Plath, Sexton, et al
(whose verse preserves badly in alcohol)
distilled tepid poems full half-throttle:
Not-so-wild turkeys, jiggling their wattle.

I strive in vain to uncover meaning
though such dry fields are barely worth gleaning;
pompous hackademics of brave new verse
have shown, through their scrawling, it can get worse;
wordsmiths of dullness for grad students’ gain,
grant scholars trading in pleasure for pain
with each odd word choice or wretched refrain.

Berryman, Bishop, Lowell, Sexton and Plath
prepare me for rest in their tepid bath
as I try to read them—but fall asleep
the book upon my breast, my boredom deep.
A soporific tried and true, such dreck.
(Amazing they could even cash a check.)

Did madness excuse them to make a fuss,
force meaningful discourse to languish thus
in obfuscation and cryptography
submerged in rarefied verbosity?
What frumpy muse, nose in her thesaurus
hoped to, this scholarly way, implore us
while putting on airs un-deliriously
to study such silly screeds seriously?

Berryman, Bishop, Plath, Sexton, and Lowell
lured me with poetry into their hole.
Lord, how these clowns made a good thing boring;
they should have set earthbound souls to soaring.
but turned it into a master’s thesis,
fracturing verse to erudite pieces.

Berryman, overrated mass of sheer
vocabulary overload, unclear,
seems more to justify modernist doubt
than to show what real poetry’s about.

Bishop, cryptic identity-monger
(America’s Vassar-girl no longer)
wrote vaguely accessible verse, sometimes…
and some of her poetry even rhymes!

Plath, prima donna, boring semantics
failing to compensate for her antics
blathering bitterness, head in oven
might have been happier joining a coven.

Sexton, pill-headed prophetess unchained
half poetess of half-sense, half-brained
departed with zest,  from her own garage.
(We’re still decoding her cryptic barrage).

Lowell, left quaking in his unstoned grave
more interesting—but still a verbose knave…

These self-absorbed nerds, when not at their shrink
checked out in adultery, pills and drink.
Such sad celebrants of depraved excess,
no vanguard at all, are more a regress
to endless jaded pointlessness and dope,
their abstract verbiage void of all hope.

Who canonized these unexploded shells,
these duds, these fizzling scribes of milquetoast hells…
must we hail and applaud such labored lines?
Instead, make them pay some posthumous fines!
They withered awhile, these funereal blooms;
let REAL poets turn over in their tombs;
call spades on what my ringing spade exhumes.

Cream of lyric America. I yawn.
It’s late now. White moonlight exalts the lawn.
The world sleeps on, lulled to death by dull verse
May their ghosts, fully exorcised, disperse…

My ditty is based on this lyrical sedative.
(I had a heck of a time trying to swallow it):
8-american-poets

Post-modern oceans:
poetry now lost at sea.
Muse overboard! (retch)

 

Shabby Proletarian Poetasters

 

Today anyone can scribble prose onto a page, give it arbitrary line breaks and call it a poem. Infamously, the minor American poets Robert Creely and Robert Bly got away with doing this, spawning generations of MFA wannabes and imitators. The post-modernist poem, known across the great pond as the McPoem, is not anything that a sophisticated reader could actually admire as he or she would Shelly’s Ozymandias or Roy Campell’s The Zebras. Rather, in our shabby social democratic times, it is a proletarian poem that any poetaster or poetasteress can write and easily get published.

from: counter-currents.com

Poetry as Nonsensical Sophistication

There is the poem of nonsensical sophistication, which is so filled with private code words and diffuse references that one can’t possibly find a steady toehold. This sort of poem is slippery as an eel, and again very easy to imitate, because the second one is pinned down by a thought one can slide over to another. An example is Terrance Hayes’s “A House Is Not a Home,” part of which reads: “I decided then, even as my ears fattened, / to seek employment at the African-American / Acoustic and Audiological Accident Insurance Institute, / where probably there is a whole file devoted / to Luther Vandross.” Hayes continues later: “I already know there is a difference / between hearing and listening, / but to get the job, I bet I will have to learn / how to transcribe church fires or how to categorize / the dozen or so variations of gasping, one of which / likely includes Ron and me in the eighth grade / the time a neighbor flashed her breasts at us.”

What? What is the “African-American Acoustic and Audiological Accident Insurance Institute”? You’ll find lots of this made-up capitalized stuff in current American poetry—an easy way to import portentousness when the material is flimsy to the point of nonexistence. Luther Vandross, transcribing church fires, eighth grade breast flashing—what the hell is going on? Also the pseudo-profundity: “There is a difference between hearing and listening.” Because it is an African-American writing this poem, we must impute jazziness to it—its saving grace, its code of honor, its point of entry.

Shield your eyes from the relentless brilliance of Anis Shivani HERE

Hard Cell

Free verse was captured,
confined to a cell
by readers unraptured
in modernist hell.

And there he did languish
while chained to the wall
and desperate in anguish
gave forth a last call:

“Listen and read me—
my muse is the best!
Applaud and then feed me,
your starving guest !

Don’t fall for that beat…
Please ignore their old line.
I’m here. I’m effete.
I’m a modern divine…

I like it in prison
No, really — I’m free!”
(But his lock was awaiting
Your Readership’s key.

For the moderns all lie,
as your readership knows;
Modern poets don’t die—
they just decompose.)

 

 

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