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Friday, August 19, 2016

Verlaine: Ars Poetica






Death to the white-guy heteronormative
bourgeois lyric. It sinks and I soar.
Untune your MFA-schooled tin-eared
competence and give us an auld tune.

So you’re the English language: want to make
something of it? This isn’t afternoon tea
at the Savoy. As for what it all means
I’ll leave that to you, soft lad translator.

Hymn with me the joys of unknowing: your eyes
behind a Touareg’s veil; summers in Goole;
a cat’s mucky footprints across a grant
application for a poem about autumn.

Because what we want’s head-fuck, nothing
but head-fuck, not the whole finding-his-voice,
one-of-our-most-trusted poets malarkey,
but moving to Yemen, orchids at the North Pole.

It’s no go your jokes at the reading, to limp
nervous giggles. End all your lines with ‘the’;
savage your friend’s new book; trace scar-lines
on the cheeks of your suburban epiphanies.

Away with a way with words: snap the neck
of eloquence like a wishbone and where
that headless chicken leads, follow. The blood-
jet of poetry spouts the purest free verse.

Rhyme, you canary courting a hippo,
stop telling me one thing chimes with another.
Nothing connects. Step out of line and it’s
a potshot to the wrist for you too, mate.

What we want’s ruckus and crash bang wallop,
a Pteranodon’s mating-call, or Mozart’s
Queen of the Night played on the Voyager probe:
anything out of this world – that or silence.

You up for it, philistines? Lick my spondees
and make sense who may. Have you even tried
being a genius? It sorts most problems out.
Anything else is The Norton Anthology.

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