They’re falling like flies.

Here are the poets eliminated so far:

Ai, Alvarez, Angel, Asekoff, Bell, Berrigan, Berryman, Boland, Booth, Braun, Broumas, Buckley, Burkard, Ceravolo, Clark, Clifton, Curbleo, Dickey, Dove, Early, Eberhart, Emanuel, Forche, Gibbons, J.Gilbert, Gluck, Goodman, Graham, Herrera, Hillman, Hirsch, Hirshfield, Hoagland, Hogan, Hollander, Howard, S.Howe, Jeffers, Keelan, Kinnell, E.Knight, Koch, Kumin, Lauterbach, Lederer, Lee, Levertov, P.Levine, Lieberman, Lima, J.Logan, Lux, Major, Marks, McGrath, Mead, Medina, Meredith, Merwin, Miller, H. Moss, S.Moss, Olson, Oppen, Orr, Osbey, Pecor, Pereira, Plumly, Rakosi, Rawson, Rector, Revell, Rexroth, Rich, Roberts, St. John, Sadoff, J.Sandburg, Schwerner, Seidel, Seidman, Sexton, D.Shapiro, K.Shapiro, Simic, Simpson, D.Smith, Snodgrass, G.Snyder, J.Snyder, Stafford, Stern, Stewart, Stone, Stroffolino, Stryk, Swenson, Valentine, Walcott, Waldman, Warsh, Weigl, R.Weiss, T.Weiss, Wenderoth, Wilbur, C.K.Williams, C.Wright, Yau, Zweig.

There are some poets…when you put them on the court…BAM!…they perform…they rise to the occasion…they impress the crowd…they leave the audience with something…they have that ‘poetic gift’ which is always at their disposal no matter what they happen to be doing… and it doesn’t matter how many people are watching and how close, or tense the game is…they never lose the touch on their soft shot…or lose accuracy…or lose can’t be explained..some have it.

Other poets, the ones eliminated here, in isolated instances, with valiant effort and pre-meditation, accomplish something wonderful, but they have bad nights, bad days, they express things that resonate in themselves but not with others, not with the crowd.  (Listen to that crowd, poets!  They sound like the sea.  Smell them.  The salt of their sweat.  Hear them.  Their cries.  Their urgencies.  They move the air; they say: Make us feel.  Make us understand.  Write for us, the world, not your own idea, wrapped, warming beneath a lamp, in a dim alley of your brain. Not in there.  We are here.  Here we are!)

But the losers do not move the crowd.

The losers wrote (occasionally it might seem like there’s a typo which mars the text below—but that’s how it is with bad poetry—no typos in the following; what appears is the poets’ actual text):

We say a heart breaks—like
a stick, maybe, or a bottle
or a wave.  But it seems


Sat., Apr. 26, 1973
Jefferson City, Mo. 65101
(500 yards, as the crow flies,


Almost at the end of the century
this is the time of the pain of the bears
their agony goes on at this moment


Reading I spilled the wine.
Do you care? Are you wet? Do you care?
In a later epistle, hands dry, I will say


After seven years and as the wine
leaves and black trunks of maples wait
beyond the window, I think of you


To survive things have to be blunted,
Raw experience is too fierce to endure.
The mind blots out much of experience


The way things move sometimes,
light or air,
the distance between


where the raven suddenly wetly and rawly
roughens the low vacillations of various windsweeping
hushings—as if he’s clawed


When the immutable accidents of birth—
parentage, hometown, all the rest—
no longer anchor this fiction of the self


She saying, You don’t have to do anything,
you don’t even have to be, you Only who you are,
you nobody from nowhere,


The universe is sad.
I heard it when Artur Rubenstein played the piano.
He was a little man with small hands.


I look out the window: spring is coming.
I look out the window: spring is here.
The shuffle and click of the slide projector


won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.

The percentage of women in this APR collection, and reflecting in the March Madness Tournament is not sizable: it’s roughly 25%, which will not make a lot of people happy, right, Marla?


The gender issue will always partake of the particle/wave paradox:  All the individual can ever say is that he will not reject women who are good.  As an individual, he cannot say: I will accept women who are bad and I will reject men who are good.

Aesthetics and justice are unfortunately oil and water.

If the relations between the sexes are ruled by the wicked heart, it would not be wise to then let the judgment be swayed by the heart in other matters.

Contrarily, if the heart, which makes men and women behave as they do towards each other, is good and operates in a way that passeth understanding, in that case the judgment needs to defer to that heart.

In either case, the judgment should not presume to get involved legislating the heart in any controversy between the sexes—regarding poetry.

This, I believe, is as much as can be said philosophically on the subject.  Marla?

MARLA MUSEI don’t like what you say, but I think you have a good heart and (sob!) I am in love with you, Tom, …don’t worry folks, I’m fine!….so I will carry on the best I can in these circumstances, won’t I? 

Good!  I vow I will not take advantage of your feelings when I speak again on the subject.  And I’m sure you’ll have more to say as Scarriet Poetry March Madness continues!

MARLA MUSE: I’m sure I will!

1 Comment

  1. Poem support said,

    April 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Cherrylog Road

    Off Highway 106
    At Cherrylog Road I entered
    The ’34 Ford without wheels,
    Smothered in kudzu,
    With a seat pulled out to run
    Corn whiskey down from the hills,

    And then from the other side
    Crept into an Essex
    With a rumble seat of red leather
    And then out again, aboard
    A blue Chevrolet, releasing
    The rust from its other color,

    Reared up on three building blocks.
    None had the same body heat;
    I changed with them inward, toward
    The weedy heart of the junkyard,
    For I knew that Doris Holbrook
    Would escape from her father at noon

    And would come from the farm
    To seek parts owned by the sun
    Among the abandoned chassis,
    Sitting in each in turn
    As I did, leaning forward
    As in a wild stock-car race

    In the parking lot of the dead.
    Time after time, I climbed in
    And out the other side, like
    An envoy or movie star
    Met at the station by crickets.
    A radiator cap raised its head,

    Become a real toad or a kingsnake
    As I neared the hub of the yard,
    Passing through many states,
    Many lives, to reach
    Some grandmother’s long Pierce-Arrow
    Sending platters of blindness forth

    From its nickel hubcaps
    And spilling its tender upholstery
    On sleepy roaches,
    The glass panel in between
    Lady and colored driver
    Not all the way broken out,

    The back-seat phone
    Still on its hook.
    I got in as though to exclaim,
    “Let us go to the orphan asylum,
    John; I have some old toys
    For children who say their prayers.”

    I popped with sweat as I thought
    I heard Doris Holbrook scrape
    Like a mouse in the southern-state sun
    That was eating the paint in blisters
    From a hundred car tops and hoods.
    She was tapping like code,

    Loosening the screws,
    Carrying off headlights,
    Sparkplugs, bumpers,
    Cracked mirrors and gear-knobs,
    Getting ready, already,
    To go back with something to show

    Other than her lips’ new trembling
    I would hold to me soon, soon,
    Where I sat in the ripped back seat
    Talking over the interphone,
    Praying for Doris Holbrook
    To come from her father’s farm

    And to get back there
    With no trace of me on her face
    To be seen by her red-haired father
    Who would change, in the squalling barn,
    Her back’s pale skin with a strop,
    Then lay for me

    In a bootlegger’s roasting car
    With a string-triggered I2-gauge shotgun
    To blast the breath from the air.
    Not cut by the jagged windshields,
    Through the acres of wrecks she came
    With a wrench in her hand,

    Through dust where the blacksnake dies
    Of boredom, and the beetle knows
    The compost has no more life.
    Someone outside would have seen
    The oldest car’s door inexplicably
    Close from within:

    I held her and held her and held her,
    Convoyed at terrific speed
    By the stalled, dreaming traffic around us,
    So the blacksnake, stiff
    With inaction, curved back
    Into life, and hunted the mouse

    With deadly overexcitement,
    The beetles reclaimed their field
    As we clung, glued together,
    With the hooks of the seat springs
    Working through to catch us red-handed
    Amidst the gray breathless batting

    That burst from the seat at our backs.
    We left by separate doors
    Into the changed, other bodies
    Of cars, she down Cherrylog Road
    And I to my motorcycle
    Parked like the soul of the junkyard

    Restored, a bicycle fleshed
    With power, and tore off
    Up Highway 106, continually
    Drunk on the wind in my mouth,
    Wringing the handlebar for speed,
    Wild to be wreckage forever.

    James Dickey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: