Monday’s Verse 8/8/2017

Dear readers,

first, an erratum. Terrance Hayes was named poetry editor of the New York Times, not the New Yorker. I realized my error when 2 goons hired by Paul Muldoon — mulgoons, we’ll call them — came to the house last Thursday and shattered my shins. I’ll think of terza rima every time I try to walk from now on, and I apologize for the error.

Friend and fellow jazz buff Edgar saved the day on Sunday by asking if I’d ever heard of Jayne Cortez (1936-2012). I had not. He apparently drove her around and escorted her at a U Pittsburgh event where she was performing with her band, The Firespitters. Edgar was excited among other reasons because she was Ornette Coleman’s wife, and she also published several volumes of poetry. She was known as an innovative and visceral poet, the latter of which you’ll certainly sense below. In her defense, she did say don’t ask. -ed.

DON’T ASK/1980

Don’t ask me

who I’m speaking for

who I’m talking to

why I’m doing what I do in

the light of my existence

You rise you spit you brush you drink you

pee you shit you walk you run you work

you eat you belch you sleep you dream &

that’s the way it is

In the morning

tap water tasted fishy

coffee sits in its

decaffeinated cup

caca & incense

have a floating romance

& a stale washcloth

will make you smell

doubly stale

so don’t get kissed on the cheek

don’t get licked on the neck

at 8 a.m.

the trains & buses are

packed with folks farting

their bread & butter farts

the gymnasium

is dominated

by the stench of

hot tennis shoes

& one in the locker room

a few silly-talking

intellectual-looking

coke-drinking

cloth-dropping

paper-littering

spinach-pooting

smug arrogant women wait to

be waited on

& in another locker room

there are odors of

crotches & jock straps

bengay, tiger balm

& burning balls

sweat socks & sweat suits

of body-building

door-slamming

iron-pumping

phlegm-hawking men

all sour & steamy

& wrapped up together

in a swamp of

butt-popping towels

but don’t let it

get you down

don’t let it

psych you up

Outside the ledges are

loaded with pigeons

clouds are seeded with

homeless people &

lyricism of the afternoon

in a sub-proletarian madman

squatting & vomiting

from his bowels

a brown liquid of death

in front of your house

& it’s not happening because of you

those socks don’t stink because of me

a bureaucrat is not a jerk because of us

I’m not this way because of them

you’re not that way because of me

don’t ask about influences

You rise you spit you brush you drink you

pee you shit you walk you run you work

you eat you belch you sleep you dream

& that’s the way it is

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