I don’t know about you, Joe, but I
try to be clever in most conversations:
swapping stories with the warehouse-boys
at work, or talking rock-n’-roll trivia
to my teenage sons; bullshitting friends
I don’t see as often as I’d like,
and (always) when I sit down to write.
I read other poets and admire
their cleverness, surprising details,
a whistling ability to keep me laughing
while they walk me through the dark.
I’m not impressed or entertained by poems
that hinge upon a studied knowledge of the classics.
That kind of cleverness usually bores me (or pisses me off)
like an inside joke I have to learn to get —
a goddamn research project —
when all I want is an honest song, bloody & lusty.
No one farts or fucks in those literary cantos,
though the allusions may be there
if you’d care to explicate & analyze:
“Apollo’s swift sword cuts the wind.”
And here I am being witty again
at the expense of my academic brethern.
I sit in the cheap seats & take pot shots
at those fair-haired, hard-backed-first-edition
canon-ites who’ve made poetry what it is today:
un-common, incorrigible, & aloof. Balls I say!
Poetry needs more beans, more bananas & more beer.
Gimme a Whitman, a Bukowski, or a Jim Harrison
poem, something earthy or dirty with guts —
like a foxy Jimi Hendrix tune. Let it swing & scream,
let it prance & wink, make every syllable count.
I want it to bury me like my father’s death.
That’s the poem I want. Clever or not,
just make it real; touch me; make me sweat.
I want to remember what you can’t forget.
I want to feel it, I want to breathe it,
I want to bleed it & believe . . .
that somehow I am this poem.
— for JimBo & Joe Mama