by Edward Smith
for Holly
[one: the text]
back in the 60’s
PL, the approximately Maoist component
of SDS, said join the military
because we must share the experiences
of our generation, or
was it Spartacist, one of ’em
I can’t remember
my point being
that’s what I’ve gone & done
or darn near, which
makes me some kind of authority
on practically everything
there is, for example,
this poetry, simple
with deep feeling
no longer than it has to be
refuting the wacky nonsense
of as many academic birdbrains
as could dance on the tailpipe
of the Harley-Davidson
driven by the Adonis of Denver
and all his wordy, wordy friends
posing with chicks for their photos
in four-for-a-buck booths somewhere
churning out turgid ragas
of verbose verbology
entering the academy sideways later
on some odd bureaucratic dole-
this poetry, I say, better
than Ezra, eclipsing
a civilization down on
its luck, having spent most
of 200 years, since “Lyrical
Ballads” was published, slowly
losing its nerve
that’s one, then
there’s the corporate
hesitation, fired
again and again, for building
people, give a man a fish
and he’ll write a glowing description
of the fishing industry,
teach a man to fish
& we’ll fire his ass
because he won’t need us any more
Thank you, Fish Incorporated
for your mendacious misappropriation
of Drucker & Tom Peters
visit me in the garden
of the new Voltaire
that’s two, then
the church,leaving aside
its great, utterly orthodox
doctrine of the office work
of the Holy Spirit, convicting,
converting, guiding, reproving,
comforting & healing–
on doing everything itself
as follows:
come unto me, all you who labor
with burdens, and I will give you
more burdens, more labor
never take it easy
work your butts off
there are a few, just a few
tickets to paradise
that’s three, and then
may I just mention briefly
everybody’s bad attitude?
[two: the dream]
as I drove through the country
from Millstadt to Columbia this morning
trying to see as Du Fu, Su Shi saw
twiggy groves jumbled against wisps of cloud
blue Harvestores dwarfing a 30’s bungalow
and what these views
said of me who drove beside them
the mind reaching out, in
after the nature of what is true–
the thoughts of so many
entertain willed disorder
which may at times be exciting
but abandons our children
to chaotic dreams
Stephen called from Albuquerque
he teaches tenth graders Shakespeare
he’s still alive in his early 60’s
we laughed about the caftan party
where he astonished the guests–
a West Hollywood Jesus in 1970
with long, dark brown beard & hair–
& met a man he fell in love with
fifteen years before the AIDS epidemic
thank God he’s still alive
lifting his kids to art, kids
who are his ageless Dorian Grays
as he ages like Dorian’s picture
and I’m alive too
and aging like Stephen
emailing young poets
with eternal news
keeping it sweet & simple
our transparent always
dang ve que cua long minh
returning to the hometown of my heart
hiking with Karen in a Cascades dream
sipping cold water
from a spring in the Cuyamacas
with Clair, he is gone
he is forever here
and I ache for Karen
who is after all writing again
for Eugene who is old enough
not to be easily encouraged
for Sidley who is riding
horses & saving her pennies
I hope she is singing
for Evelyn, surrounded by mirrors
still trying to impress somebody
the question is, who?
for Lona, shivering
in the winds of El Paso
comforting Chicano children
whose daddies are at war
and I ache for Dawn
with the bad, bad stuff in her blood
may it be lifted, filtered, vanished
by the power of love
for Roberta, dying of cancer
for Margaret, cleaning teeth
who has no money for travel
for Bill Payne, who had me
in his sights, but I survived
for my enemies-all–
whose names are remembered, forgotten
Pat Wagner, John, another John
Serruys, S.J., the VC
Robert Creeley, with his
shallow, need-driven definition
of love, O lift him
in the mercy of the Great Buddha
out of the dual raging
neon-busted sandstorm
to the one great gift of “be”
and I ache for Joe
who stuffed the past
and has become so much more
that it hurts him to talk to me
may the power of love
collapse him, free him
and may you who read this,
hear this, listen
to the difficulties it presents
turn it over in your hands,
may it sing to you
of your own intense beauty
may it hurt you as it hurts
those who love you
as it hurts me to write it
not knowing through what deaths
it will be going
but knowing
we are together
at the end of everything
in your back garden somewhere
resting beneath the midnight stars
drinking margaritas
& toasting the spring moon

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