A Sonnet for Poets
The voice I seek to voice is only sand.
Look now—the Devil wears a tricorn hat.
Napoleon on amphetamines. Remand
This suspect to that prison, this or that.
Merlin made an elephant of a toad.
Bless the small finches! All the tan oaks
Are dropping acorns on the asphalt road.
No dog. No cat. The poets get the jokes.
Oh, a blue martini wonderfully stirred.
When then ile fit you. A cranberry Cape Cod.
The glass is sweating so the ice is blurred.
I believe in the Devil but not in God.
The couplet should make something of all this:
Dunk your head in a vat of hippo piss.
My mood seems to be improving, so I let today’s sonnet disassociate in the Post-Modern tradition. And I want to say this, and mark my words: It is easier to write obscurely in a dissociative, Post-Modern fashion than in a traditional fashion. Narrative is hard work; so is unity. When these are removed, a sonnet can be composed much more quickly, while a free verse poem finds its own propulsion and the only readers that remain for this fiasco are poets and aficionados—the state of poetry today. Robert Pinsky tried to ameliorate this cultural trend by making a record of Americans’ favorite poems. I do not believe Charles Olson or Paul Celan were represented.
William Carlos Williams averred that “The Waste Land” ruined poetry because it came too early for proper literary development. In other words, it was inevitable but it came prematurely; it was a futuristic anachronism for the state of poetry at that time. In my essays on Eliot, available at The Melic Review, I repeatedly make the point that there has been nothing really new in poetry since “The Waste Land,” which contains everything from lower class chatter to nonsense sounds and a sort of false erudition. This doesn’t mean there have not been great stylists since, like Thomas or Larkin or Roethke or Strand, only that there were no rules left to break. Thus I am free to write a sonnet today whose puzzle for the reader is the reader’s puzzle and not mine. It is not my job as a Post-Modern poet to make sense, only to make a few connections between images and emotions. If this is how you like your poetry, fine. I just want to emphasize that much of what parades as new and original may in part be a blind for pure laziness, an unwillingness to learn form and clarity before galumphing about in the disorganized cupboard of the poet’s mind.
At 2 kilorats but feeling fragile,