A RIFF ON CATULLUS
alternate title: POOR JACK
I saw her last night, this ultra-perfect woman
you said was so beautiful--
beyond the beauty of sunsets and stars,
sure to be the next Mrs. Jack Richardson,
the queen of your life.
My poor fellow, she’s a cow, indeed
no bull with a smidgen of pride would consort with her,
and even though you
travel to the Pope and buy some humungus cosmic indulgence
that lets you rearrange the order of the planets
or schmooze with the Dalai Lama
so you can rewrite your very own karma
or purchase the New York Times,
the editorial department anyway,
so you can spin alpha into omega,
she will always be a cow. My poor fellow,
come and buy me a drink--I’m quite broke--
and I’ll convince you to forget what’s-her-name.
Now, that one over there--see?--
she’s so much more of what you need.
(For genesis of this riff, see notes at end of "The Plight of Poetry" in Essays About Poetry.)
NEW YORKER POEM BLUEPRINT
murmur murmur murmur, murmur
murmur murmur reminisce and
murmur murmur, murmur preen sigh,
murmur murmur digress murmur?
oh, sermonize—murmur murmur!
murmur murmur quiver murmur.
murmur murmur murmur pose, wink!
murmur murmur subside: murmur
murmur conceal murmur; murmur
murmur murmur emote murmur.
suppose! murmur mumble, mumble
murmur, alas, murmur murmur.
pretend? murmur fade lull murmur
murmur murmur sadden....murmur
murmur whisper, murmur murmur?
(Sorry, Eustace Tilley! But when it came to satirizing, the New Yorker turned out to be my favorite thing. This would be about 1990. Remember those poems you could read three times and still not get? The language so thin and distant, you knew somebody had died? Many of my reactions were rash and perhaps childish. But there's one that seems to me elegant, a fine example of what might be called a concept poem. I daresay a Frenchman or a Japanese, people who had never heard of the New Yorker, would feel that now they know it well.)
© Bruce Deitrick Price 2011