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Friday, August 28, 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A poem I don't understand

I like this about having written poetry for thirty years: I can go back to old notebooks or old electronic files and find things I wrote that I don't now understand. I can see me in there, but I can't recall what I meant. So the poem must stand on its own. I assume, then that this poem from seven years ago was actually from a dream. If it makes sense to you, explain it to me.



"Noodle prophecy from a dream"


Sensible custom says that when the emperor
offers you a noodle from his priceless bowl
of udon, bow your deep gratitude--and refuse.
His servant will offer noodles to everyone.
All will bow, smile, bow, refuse. The emperor,
one day soon, will need to fight for udon, defend
each sesame seed from huns and djinis and dragons,
protect our right to eat soba with smoked trout
with his considerable armies and all his myth.

But what if, tourist that I am, I accept
the noodle? What if I suck it from the chopsticks
the servant clutches tightly, testing my resolve?
The white tendon will strain and snap and vanish
between my soupy lips, and that’s when I’ll bow.
Nobody will register shock, but it will be
understood that when the time comes, show biz or
no biz, I will fight alongside the emperor.

When generations have passed since our victory,
and dinner is over, we will be legends
over the land. But if antiestablishment
sentiments foment locally like heat rash
or burgeoning technology, then we who fought
for salt and water and dough will be cast down.
They’ll revile our intentions with every slurp.

This is how time turns and stretches: it just does;
while sea to sea, people suck down their noodles
and offer the reasons they feel in their bellies.
Some will go hungry, others will be sated;
the spicing of culture will change, and all will judge.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Farce Side

My attention in grad school divided.
Some stayed on my declaration to be
a master of poetry. Comedy,
on the other hand, was an equally
attractive mistress-muse and one I'd loved

almost as long—and I loved me on stage.
To rage or parody or flat out goof
or pratfall or streak naked—I was free,
and on that stage, I needed no more proof.
The undersexed (thus socially awkward)

protopoet, who was never aloof
but seemed to be so, found his misfit tribe
acting out his angst in blood-red self-spoof.
Ruttish sex, deviant sex, vibrators,
weed, nitrous oxide, mushrooms, LSD—

all in play—while in poems I circumscribed
subterranean fires like some chaste scribe.