they won't write short stories or articles
they just go on
pumping out poems
each sounding more and more like the others
and less and less like themselves,
and some of the young boys weary and quit
but the professors never quit
and the wives who drink wine in the afternoons
never ever ever quit
and new young boys arrive with new magazines
and there is some correspondence with lady or men poets
and some fucking
and everything is exaggerated and dull.
when the poems come back
they retype them
and send them off to the next magazine on the list,
and they give READINGS
all the readings they can
for free most of the time
hoping that somebody will finally know
finally applaud them
finally congratulate and recognize their
they are so sure of their genius
there is so little self-doubt,
and most of them live in North Beach or New York City,
and their faces are like their poems:
and they know each other and
gather and hate and admire and choose and discard
and keep pumping out more poems
the contest of the dullards:
tap tap tap, tap tap, tap tap tap, tap tap...
I told her, "look, get the hell
away from me."
but she kept tearing at my
clothing and throwing herself
"where were you," I
asked her, "when I was living
on one candy bar a day and
sending short stories to the
she grabbed my balls and almost
twisted them off. her kisses
tasted like shitsoup.
2 women jumped up on the stage
carried her off into the
I could still hear her screams
as I began the next poem.
maybe, I thought, I should have
taken her on stage in front
of all those eyes.
but one can never be sure
whether it's good poetry or
I took the cat back, it was a hot summer, one of the
hottest in decades, I put him on the bathroom
floor, gave him water and pills, he wouldn't eat, he
wouldn't touch the water, I dipped my finger into it
and wet his mouth and I talked to him, I didn't go any-
where, I put in a lot of bathroom time and talked to
him and gently touched him and he looked back at
me with those pale blue crossed eyes and as the days went
by he made his first move
dragging himself forward by his front legs
(the rear ones wouldn't work)
he made it to the litter box
crawled over and in,
it was like the trumpet of possible victory
blowing in that bathroom and into the city, I
related to that cat-I'd had it bad, not that
bad but bad enough
one morning he got up, stood up, fell back down and
just looked at me.
"you can make it," I said to him.
he kept trying, getting up falling down, finally
he walked a few steps, he was like a drunk, the
rear legs just didn't want to do it and he fell again, rested,
then got up.
you know the rest: now he's better than ever, cross-eyed
almost toothless, but the grace is back, and that look in
his eyes never left...
and now sometimes I'm interviewed, they want to hear about
life and literature and I get drunk and hold up my cross-eyed,
shot, runover de-tailed cat and I say,"look, look
but they don't understand, they say something like,"you
say you've been influenced by Celine?"
"no," I hold the cat up,"by what happens, by
things like this, by this, by this!"
I shake the cat, hold him up in
the smoky and drunken light, he's relaxed he knows...
it's then that the interviews end
although I am proud sometimes when I see the pictures
later and there I am and there is the cat and we are photo-
he too knows it's bullshit but that somehow it all helps.
one is asked
their total error
especially if they are
but age is the total of
they have aged
because they have
out of focus,
they have refused to
not their fault?
I am asked to hide
for fear of their
age is no crime
but the shame
of a deliberately
among so many