Who says that poetry dare not describe,
except in abstract, the signs of the times,
when modern culture abounds with sound bytes
from cinema, like Puzo’s line
that all business is personal,
and we hang with pride by electron pins
our ragged, besmirched angst,
so that a global web of public noses
can share our hampers’ contents:
the tattered, faded t-shirts (now vintage wear)
that in high school twenty years ago
could get us suspended for dress code violations
(I think of the Ramones, the Clash, and Bauhaus,
who sell more accessories now than
they ever dreamed of during their lifetimes).
Who says that poetry must first, before all else,
be small and disheveled, a Pigpen trailing the muck
of his own me-o-centric dust bowl,
or soft and insecure Linus, grasping desperately
to the security of psychosis,
lamenting years of analysis that have left us,
as a people, addicted to neuropathic drugs
and fattened the wallets of countless would-be-Freuds
and their pushermen?
Who says that language must devolve
to suit the temper of the times,
instead of lifting, by the scruff of the neck,
its whining, self-centered congregation
beyond the dry and brittle pews of academia
into direct experience with the Divine?
Who says that poets must wait, patient,
while the world argues and decides their fate?
Who says that poetry dare not touch
upon the sacred? Without tangents
such as these, what good is it? Why, then,
keep on, and on and on, ’til break of dawn
insisting that the pen is mighty?
Wherefore comes that might? From lashing
oneself to the mast of culture’s speeding craft,
so that the Sirens on the rocks
may loose their soft, seductive stream
and yet not sway the poet’s course.
24 APR 2005