Sunday, March 4, 2012

No Exit

No Exit

Men die every day for the lack of what is in poems.
If I say so, birds tip over. These beautiful first editions
Under bright glass in cases are like blocks of ice that
Won’t melt. Men die every day while these books
Gather dust. Why don’t we just burn them?
Tonight the moon is so bright you could read
A book by its light. You know what you can do
With your goddamn romantic moon. The moon
Won’t melt, it’s not a round slice of stinking French
Cheese, either. If I say so, the moon melts. Words
In a poem aren’t just words, but a poem. One two
Three four. This is a poem for Jack Spicer. One
Way to tell is to test it. Maybe I have the formula
Backwards. If I say so, birds tip over. Every day,
Books get tossed into dumpsters because there are
Too many of them. Toss out the birds and bring back
The moon, I say. You know what you can do with your
Goddamn first editions. This poem is dedicated to
No one.


Conrad DiDiodato said...


a frightening portrayal of the thinness of literacy in the Internet age, with the distinctive sense that even the tradition(s) leading to it may have been in vain.

"No Exit", indeed.

Love it!

Sunny West said...

How very complex, yet intriguing. A tad sad and even better, bitter poem.

Curtis Faville said...


No not sad!

We just had a bam-bam earthquake here about 30 minutes ago--I think the epicenter was less than a mile from our house. Much different than when you're miles away. It was one of those where you feel like a puppet that's being shaken violently. No rolling, just intense side-to-side jerking. Woo.

The poem is a take off on certain phrases from a number of post-Modernist writers--Jack Spicer, Robert Creeley, Kenneth Patchen. The "bitterness" in it isn't anger, or frustration, or despair. It plays with that cranky Spicer tone where you don't quite know where his ironic ambiguity is taking him. Out of rejection and dismissiveness come new affirmations.

Most of us reject thousands of human overtures every week. We also reject ideas, options of various kinds. This is called sophistication. The finest minds are tuned to discriminate at a high level, which is to say they pare away imprecision and irrelevancy. The books and the language we use to describe things are the very stuff of poetry; but in order to question them, to be fully conscious, involves the reinvestment in them as potentials, albeit with weariness and familiarity. Wow, another poem about the moon, or birds, or cheese, or dumpsters. Are poems formulas we use to get us somewhere? Is a poem a problem solved? Is it a little machine made of words. Stop the poem, I want to get out (or off)!!

Charles Shere said...

I dont care what the others say
Its a hell of a poem
I wouldnt mind having written it myself