A Philistine’s Complaint
October 31, 2014
In my day job I often work with contemporary poetry that I don’t understand. Far too much a prose guy, I like passages that start here and go there, and if detours are taken along the way, fine, but I want to be able to look back and see where I came from, trace the route, and if all I see is a jumble of trees and broken glass and pizzas and penguins and other stuff that doesn’t seem to belong on the same street or even in the same country—and to me much recent poetry is like that—I wonder why I began the trip. In other words, I want poetry to be like that preceding sentence, difficult to diagram but coherent.
Clearly, then, I’m an idiot when it comes to present-day poems, and the following catterel* could be called “A Philistine’s Complaint.” Instead, being pretentious, I chose a clumsy echo of Keats for the title. Today being Halloween, I present this as a tiny contribution to our holiday of horrors.
*Catterel, of course, is verse not good enough to qualify as doggerel.
On First Looking into the Esteemed Poet’s Latest Volume
I don’t get this poem, do you?
The lines skitter
this way and
that, with no reason I can discern
and naturally no
rhyme, except from time
to time, seemingly at
and the images dance even more
W * I * L * D * L * Y
about in fervid or perhaps ironic
f r e n z y , punctuated
and though I mildly admit my slavery
to logical thought, it’s hard to guess
what this mess
It’s profound, I’m sure. In a way, dreamlike.
Yet in earlier centuries the author of such tum-
would have been burned or be-
headed for witchcraft. Surely this punishment is too dire
for a poet who
teaches other poets
at a poetically
and yet one could hope for
a true witch to boil
this cauldron of wordy gratifications,
stir it, curse it,
revealing a single tough
to the bottom, like a burnt strip
That, I could get my teeth into.