Dark Messy Tower

1. Mark Edmundson Current Lightning Rod of Outrage

2. David Lehman BAP Editor now TV star: PBS’ Jewish Broadway

3. Rita Dove She knows Dunbar is better than Oppen

4. Matthew Hollis Profoundly researched Edward Thomas bio

5. Paul Hoover Status quo post-modern anthologist, at Norton

6. Don Share Wins coveted Poetry magazine Editorship

7. Sharon Olds Gets her Pulitzer

8. Michael Robbins The smartest guy writing on contemporary poetry now–see Hoover review

9. Marjorie Perloff Still everyone’s favorite Take-No-Prisoners Dame Avant-Garde

10. Natasha Trethewey Another Round as Laureate

11. Ron Silliman The Avant-garde King

12. Tony Hoagland The Billy Collins of Controversy

13. Billy Collins The real Billy Collins

14. Kenneth Goldsmith Court Jester of Talked-About

15. Terrance Hayes The black man’s Black Man’s Poet?

16. William Logan Favorite Bitch Critic

17. Avis Shivani Second Favorite Bitch Critic

18. John Ashbery Distinguished and Sorrowful Loon

19. Stephen Burt P.C. Throne at Harvard

20. Robert Hass  West Coast Establishment Poet

21. Harold Bloom Reminds us ours is an Age of Criticism, not Poetry

22. Helen Vendler She, in the same stultifying manner, reminds us of this, too.

23. Dana Gioia  Sane and Optimistic Beacon?

24. Bill Knott An On-line Bulldog of Poignant Common Sense

25. Franz Wright Honest Common Sense with darker tones

26. Henry Gould Another Reasonable Poet’s Voice on the blogosphere

27. Anne Carson The female academic poet we are supposed to take seriously

28. Seth Abramson Will give you a thousand reasons why MFA Poetry is great

29. Ben Mazer Poet of the Poetry! poetry! More Poetry! School who is actually good

30. Larry Witham Author, Picasso and the Chess Player (2013), exposes Modern Art/Poetry cliques

31. Mary Oliver Sells, but under Critical assault

32. Annie Finch The new, smarter Mary Oliver?

33. Robert Pinsky Consensus seems to be he had the best run as Poet Laureate

34. Mark McGurl His book, The Program Era, has quietly had an impact

35. Seamus Heaney Yeats in a minor key

36. W.S. Merwin Against Oil Spills but Ink Spill his writing method

37. George Bilgere Do we need another Billy Collins?

38. Cate Marvin VIDA will change nothing

39. Philip Nikolayev Best living translator?

40. Garrison Keillor As mainstream poetry lover, he deserves credit

41. Frank Bidart Poetry as LIFE RUBBED RAW

42. Jorie Graham The more striving to be relevant, the more she seems to fade

43. Alan Cordle Strange, how this librarian changed poetry with

44. Janet Holmes Ahsahta editor and MFA prof works the po-biz system like no one else

45. Paul Muldoon How easy it is to become a parody of oneself!

46. Cole Swensen Some theories always seem to be missing something

47. Matthew Dickman Was reviewed by William Logan. And lived

48. James Tate For some reason it depressed us to learn he was not a laugh riot in person.

49. Geoffrey Hill His poetry is more important than you are

50. Derek Walcott A great poet, but great poets don’t exist anymore

51. Charles Bernstein A bad poet, but bad poets don’t exist anymore, either

52. Kay Ryan Emily Dickinson she’s not. Maybe Marianne Moore when she’s slightly boring?

53. Laura Kasischke She’s published 8 novels. One became a movie starring Uma Thurman. Who the hell does she think she is?

54. Louise Gluck X-Acto!

55. Rae Armantrout “Quick, before you die, describe the exact shade of this hotel carpet.”

56. Heather McHugh “A coward and a coda share a word.”

57. D.A. Powell “Of course a child. What else might you have lost.”

58. Peter Gizzi Take your lyric and heave

59. Marilyn Chin Shy Iowa student went on to write an iconic 20th century poem: How I Got That Name

60. Eileen Myles Interprets Perloff’s avant-gardism as mourning

61. Lyn Hejinian As I sd to my friend, because I am always blah blah blah

62. Nikki Finney Civil Rights is always hot

63. K. Silem Mohammad This Flarfist Poet composes purely Anagram versions of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Fie on it.

64. Meg Kearney Lectured in public by Franz Wright. Still standing.

65. Noah Eli Gordon Teaches at Boulder, published by Ahsahta

66. Peter Campion A poet, a critic and a scholar!

67. Simon Ortiz Second wave of the Native American Renaissance

68. Maya Angelou She continues to travel the world

69. Lyn Lifshin “Barbie watches TV alone, naked” For real?

70. Ange Mlinko Born in ’69 in Philly, writes for The Nation

71. Jim Behrle They also serve who only write bad poetry

72. Elizabeth Alexander She read in front of all those people

73. Dorothea Lasky The Witchy Romantic School

74. Virgina Bell The poet. Do not confuse with burlesque dancer

75. Fanny Howe Wreaks havoc out of Boston

76. Erin Belieu Available for VIDA interviews

77. Ariana Reines Another member of the witchy romantic school

78. Jed Rasula Old Left poetry critic

79. John Hennessy “Too bad I felt confined by public space/despite her kinky talk, black net and lace”

80. Timothy Donnelly “Driver, please. Let’s slow things down. I can’t endure/the speed you favor, here where the air’s electric”

81. Clive James His translation, in quatrains, of Dante’s Divine Comedy, published this year

82. Danielle Pafunda “We didn’t go anywhere, we went wrong/in our own backyard. We didn’t have a yard,/but we went wrong in the bedroom”

83. Michael Dickman Matthew is better, right?

84. Kit Robinson “Get it first/but first get it right/in the same way it was”

85. Dan Beachy Quick “My wife found the key I hid beneath the fern./My pens she did not touch. She did not touch/The hundred pages I left blank to fill other days”

86. Ilya Kaminsky Teaches at San Diego State, won Yinchuan International Poetry Prize

87. Robert Archambeau Son of a potter, this blog-present poet and critic protested Billy Collins’ appointment to the Poet Laureateship

88. Kent Johnson Best known as a translator

89. Frederick Seidel An extroverted Philip Larkin?

90. David Orr Poetry columnist for New York Times wrote on

91. Richard Wilbur Oldest Rhymer and Moliere translator

92. Kevin Young Finalist in Criticism for National Book Critics Circle

93. Carolyn Forche Human rights activist born in 1950

94. Carol Muske Dukes Former California Laureate writes about poetry for LA Times

95. William Kulik Writes paragraph poems for the masses

96. Daniel Nester The sad awakening of the MFA student to the bullshit

97. Alexandra Petri Began 2013 by calling poetry “obsolete” in Wash Post

98. John Deming Poet, told Petri, “We teach your kids.”

99. C. Dale Young “Medical students then, we had yet to learn/when we could or could not cure”

100. Clayton Eshleman Sometimes the avant-garde is just boring


  1. Bill Knott said,

    July 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    it’s not “common sense” to publish all my poetry online, it’s just that I can’t get it published elsewhere:—

    • thomasbrady said,

      July 14, 2013 at 3:03 am

      By “common sense” we referred to your on-line commentary, not to how you publish yr poems.

      Congratulations on your no. 24 position.

      No. 2 referred to one of our previous Hot 100s when introducing no. 23.

      Everyone in po-biz reads the Scarriet Hot 100.


  2. said,

    July 14, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    mr knott, stop cheapening your poetry. would picasso ever be attempting to sell one of his paintings for 2 dollars and 91 cents? i know you’re disgusted by the poetry market, and trying to be funny, but just because no major publisher wants to publish you, does not mean your art has suddenly lost value. an entire book of poems from a poet of your caliber should not be selling his work at values less than stock photography.

  3. Bill Knott said,

    July 14, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    well, mister vangiggles, i differ from every other poet named on this list, in that they all have publishers (major or minor) and you have to pay cash to buy their books to read their work, whereas i don’t have a publisher and am forced to vanity-publish all my poetry books online for free open access at my collected poems blog . . . though scarriet doesn’t seem interested in any dollars and cents aspect of the pobiz

  4. said,

    July 14, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    mr knott, I’ve discovered that most publishing is vanity publishing, whether it’s a major or minor press. however, if you are publishing yourself, you may as well charge a correct amount. free samples are fine, but don’t just give up and give it all away for free. desperation is never a good look on anybody. even the terminally disgruntled. the reason why the market for poetry is so poor is because poets have been giving away their work much too cheaply for the past 2000 years. painters, novelists, ballerinas, musicians, athletes, photographers, all charge more for their work than poets. do they work any harder than you?

  5. Des Swords said,

    July 15, 2013 at 5:14 am

    Where’s Gary Sullivan? Where’s Charles Bernstein? Where’s Manny Blackshears? Where’s Cliff Horseman? Where’s Seth Abramson? Where’s Fanny and Susan Howe? Where’s Susan Schultz? Where’s Sheila E. Murphy? Where’s Mairead Byrne? Where’s Erin Fornoff? Where’s Delta O’Hara? Where the fuck is Franz Wright?

    How dare you, Tom, leave the most significant American outsider-insider revolutionary poet of his generation off this, the most important hot 100 American poet list in the history of hot 100 American poet lists?

    • thomasbrady said,

      July 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm


      Did you read the list?


  6. thomasbrady said,

    July 15, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    “Dollars and cents aspect of pobiz…”

    Money chases reputation in art, doesn’t it?

    Reputation brings in the money, so the money is secondary.

    Reputation belongs to a cloudy world of friendships and p.r. stunts and press clippings.

    Scarriet, true, is not obsessed with how much money Bill Knott makes. We look at history and the players: Pound, Eliot, John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren. “Understanding Poetry” was the textbook in HS and college, edited by a couple of New Critics, which made a lot of reputations. Getting into a textbook is a significant thing, and editing one is even better.

    Pound and Eliot’s lawyer, John Quinn, is a figure no one knows anything about, and yet he’s probably more important than anyone.

    There’s so much ignorance when it comes to po-biz, I don’t know where to start.

  7. Bill Knott said,

    July 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    oh, Mr. Vangiggles, as you know and as Mr. Scarriet has so often failed to mention here, there are two classes of poets, the first being those whose poetry is good enough to be issued by legitimate print publishers, and the second class are those like me whose poetry is not good enough to be published by real publishers and who must resort to the shameful practice of vanity-publishing our work . . . and so I must post the complete texts of all my books on my collected poems blogs for free open access not by choice but from necessity. Even Mr. Scarriet self-publishes his poems on this blog, so you would think he might have some sympathy for the humiliation I feel at being forced to vanity-publish all my work. With the exception of me, the poets that Mr. Scarriet lists above are all legitimate poets certified by AmeriPoBiz Inc (as are the ones listed by Mr. Swords) and are all published by legitimate publishers certified by the AWP and the Academy of American Poets and the Poetry Foundation. publishes excerpts from all legitimately-published books but not from self-published books like mine: need I say more.

  8. Bill Knott said,

    July 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    and on top of that, Mr. Vangiggles, wouldn’t you think that Mr. Scarriet would know that if he’s going to go to the trouble of compiling and presenting such a list of real legitimate poets, that he shouldn’t sabotage it by including a vanity-poet like me?

  9. thomasbrady said,

    July 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Bill Knott is far too modest.

    Knott is just as “legitimate” as any poet on the list, a very visible poet who is in anthologies and is probably as famous in the poetry world as anyone.

    And since beyond the poetry world, almost no poets are known at all, Knott should be satisfied.

    We make much too much of self-publishing. With all the contest model publications, academic subsidies, and the fact that poetry has no mainstream public…hell, to be honest, John Ashbery is published by a few of his friends; all poetry is ‘vanity publishing,’ more or less. How much poetry actually sells?

    Knott has a very interesting and original mind. Most of his poems are not particularly good—as poems. But he’s an original and provocative thinker. He’s a rare mind who can make you stop and think. For instance, in an interview on-line with Bookslut, Knott claims to hate music and says music, unlike the other arts, inspires soldiers as they march into battle. How many people would formulate such a theory, or come up with such an idea? One in a million? One in a billion? I got more pleasure from reading that interview than from reading the poems.

    Because his mind is so interesting, the poetry occasionally shows flashes, especially in the very short lyrics, of real brilliance.

    Knott is for real. And he’s doing just fine.

  10. noochinator said,

    July 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Lots of good authors writing e-books these days—
    It’s hard to get a book published (unless the author pays)—

    And so, as the issuance of (good) paper books doth dwindle,
    I’m faced with the necessity of purchasing a Kindle.

  11. thomasbrady said,

    July 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    It is better to perfect a hundred poems than to spew thousands of half-realized ones.

    I like to see the prose and the poet mind of an author presented side by side. Shakespeare was surely doing this in his plays.

    Is purple prose poetry? Are the essays of Emerson the poetry of Whitman? This is precisely what happened. I mean, Whitman copied the prose style of Emerson. This is when the ‘free verse’ revolution occured; a tragedy, really.

    Literature needs two eyes: it needs poetry and prose.

    On a related matter: what is delightful about self-publishing poems on one’s blog is that the poem is like a living organism: it can change. Like a fish moving in an aquarium, the Scarriet poems are sometimes revised. For instance, I just changed “The Moon Suffices” to the past tense. (It helped).

    The addition of a single word can save a poem.

    Perfection is the poet’s Eldorado, not the rough utterance of fanciful obscurity.

  12. Bill Knott said,

    July 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Scarriet, no doubt your poems are good enough to be published anywhere, but you publish them on your blog for the reasons you state,

    whereas my poems on the other hand have to be vanity-published on my blogs because they’re not good enough to be published elsewhere as anybody would have to conclude after looking through the pages at this blog: . . .

    In the real world there is a big difference between poets who have books issued by real publishers and poets like me who are forced to self-publish our books. Poets House in New York City refuses to have self-published books on its shelves. and won’t reprint anything from a self-published book. Publishers Weekly reviews almost all poetry books but never self-published ones. (Numerous other examples could be adduced.) Self-published books are not recognized as legitimate by every organization that governs poetry, from the Academy of American Poets to The Poetry Society of America to the The Poetry Foundation to BAP and all other such institutions. The very fact that self-published books are not eligible for any of the prizes administered by such bodies should prove my point.

  13. vangiggles said,

    July 15, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    mr knott, yes, yes, blah, blah, blah, we all know how the mainstream academic poetry institutions currently work….

    if you truly believe your work has no value, why give it away for free? why not just keep it to yourself?

    • thomasbrady said,

      July 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      All poets want to be read.

      But the only poets remembered (Shakespeare, Poe) will be the ones who wanted to be heard.

      • vangiggles said,

        July 16, 2013 at 3:24 pm

        all poets should want to be paid amply for their work, not giving it away for free. shakepeare and poe would not disagree with me on this.

        anybody can be read, heard, or even listened to. it’s the work that matters, and then getting appropriately paid for that work.

        • thomasbrady said,

          July 16, 2013 at 6:02 pm


          No one buys poems. They buy reputation—which is what sells the poems. People buy Keats or Shakespeare. They don’t buy random poems. Reputations must be made, and can be made in a variety of ways. Why, they can even be made by offering one’s poems for free! I agree with you this may not be the best method, but it’s better than putting one’s poems in a drawer. Knott is afraid he’ll die, people will stop buying his books, and he will be forgotten. He’s staying as visible as he can because he believes in his work.

          Your dogged fixation on this has brought up a very interesting point, however. How do we know one is “getting appropriately paid for the work?” What is poetic value?

          It’s a rich and captivating topic which I shall write an essay on forthwith.

          My point about “heard” is that poetry that works aloud will be the poetry that is most likely to be remembered.


          • vangiggles said,

            July 16, 2013 at 7:04 pm

            tom, according to knott, people/publishers have already stopped buying his books, which is why he is giving them away for free, in hopes that he will generate some interest in his work. knott also believes, more than likely, that by giving his work away for free, that he is somehow “sticking it to the man,” but all he’s really doing is perpetuating the market stereotypes that have surrounded poets and poetry all the way back to ancient greece, where, instead of actually getting paid for their work, poets and writers were offered various shrubberies in exchange for their labor.

            • thomasbrady said,

              July 17, 2013 at 12:39 pm

              Do “market stereotypes” determine value of labor? For thousands of years? Really?

              • vangiggles said,

                July 17, 2013 at 3:16 pm

                there are occasionally shifts in markets. for example, musicians and actors get much more than they did in shakespeare’s day.

  14. #101 support said,

    July 16, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    101. Richard Howard


    George Sand

    You were comrades, compères, Nadar had even named a balloon after you, so when, that afternoon in his studio—though you were sixty, beyond seduction or at least beyond seducing, irreproachably chaptered at Nohant in a rustle of no more than imaginary copulation—when he asked you to sit for him as Racine you went along with the gag, if it was one, wrapped yourself in red velvet and a Louis-something wig left around for fancy-dress parties, and lo! disclose yourself a classic in precisely the moral drag you managed to forgo for a lifetime of thriving on what others call intuition, though it is in fact no more than a subtle human power of noticing, or attention, or simply trust in experience. Neither the grande dame your dreadful novels flouted nor the grande amoureuse you flattered yourself your lovers were not up to, you still belong with the subversive poet you take off or put on here, for you have discovered that to make choices is nothing, to take them less—to create choices is everything. The ones you created were a trap Racinian enough for your disguise: releasing inhibitions is quite as compulsive, repetitive and hysterical an operation (and opus) as repressing them. Perhaps a genius though never a gentleman, you pose with a flamboyant frumpishness past the dull coquetries of sex, serenely heretical, efficient, real.

    Richard Howard

  15. #102 support said,

    July 16, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    102. Stephanie Brown


    She’s pretty if you think about it, if you let your eyes go
    if you put away your vision of hair blowing, turning in wind-machine wind
    with eyes closed hugging herself: make it her:
    The tiny red bow attached to her red bra which peeks out from
    her linen blouse
    —they’re ripe breasts, after all—is evocative if you feel your way
    You can see how it would be attractive
    (some men), you think, sure.
    Her slow, slow gait is not subtle. Bovine legs, lips.
    A painter would want to paint you, someone says to her.
    Her curves, yes, are mountainous. Out of style, nonetheless.

    Her fashion is fat fashion, let’s face it.
    Large in a fur coat: Masoch’s fate, Sade’s wisdom.
    It’s only pastel, pastime, part-time sensual, let’s face it.
    Don’t ever let’s see it.
    Her face is a fat face in a chocolate bar, let’s face it.
    No one hugs her around the hips and places his face in her ur—
    let’s face it. She’s no one’s ur-lover except in

    reflection, let’s face it. Amazon walking purposelessly looking
    purposeful, let’s face it. Her cosmetic comedy inflicted into her skin
    is depressing, let’s face it. Her comedy, which is tragedy,
    is driving no one wild, let’s face it. If you think about her if you think
    about her which you do only if she is facing you across
    the spaghetti dinner you ordered lonely together on your evening
    away from a real life, she has no backbone.
    She has a life, if you think about it.
    If you feel your way into it, she’s attractive, but you would never
    touch it, it’s too complicated, all that wanting not wanting
    wanting not wanting is the way you think she feels it.
    Those arms around her hips: it isn’t for you, it isn’t for her. What was it

    the art critic you heard said about past portraits of naked fleshy
    women: they had strength, power—
    he said. But who, today, believes it?

    Stephanie Brown

  16. Anonymous said,

    July 17, 2013 at 2:38 am

    Are you on drugs, Mr. Graves?

    Or just don’t read a lot.

    • thomasbrady said,

      July 17, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Read a lot? Ha. Who has time to read a lot? I live, man!

  17. Anonymous said,

    July 17, 2013 at 3:37 am

    Bill Knott said:

    “Self-published books are not recognized as legitimate by every organization that governs poetry, from the Academy of American Poets to The Poetry Society of America to the The Poetry Foundation to BAP and all other such institutions. The very fact that self-published books are not eligible for any of the prizes administered by such bodies should prove my point.”

    This comment pretty much sums it up for the publishing industry. For example, following are some poets of note who originally self-published:

    Alexander Pope
    William Blake
    Walt Whitman
    Ezra Pound
    T.S. Eliot
    E. E. Cummings
    Gary B. Fitzgerald
    Edgar Allan Poe
    Robert Bly
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti
    Robinson Jeffers
    Alfred Lord Tennyson
    Percy Bysshe Shelley
    Robert Service
    Carl Sandburg

    • thomasbrady said,

      July 17, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      Good point, Gary.

      The true poet seeks one thing, and one thing only: “Sweet fame.” Not money. Can you imagine Shelley waiting on a check for his poems before writing a word? He had to write. And he wrote. Who the hell cares how many prizes Shelley won or how many books he sold or how much he was paid for his poetry?

      VanGiggles is obviously sincere and earnest, and his point is well taken, but…

      • vangiggles said,

        July 17, 2013 at 3:13 pm

        fame without fortune is a complete waste of effort, and something only a mentally ill or wealthy person would seek out. don’t read much shelley. never have, probably never will.

        did shelley even have to work? or was he just another wealthy person with nothing else to do but write write write?

        i have no problem with self publishing, a revered and necessary tradition. just don’t give your ish away for free.


        the majority of magazines currently publishing poetry do not pay at all, nor is any fame achieved via publication in these magazines. that, to me, is a serious problem. and the ones that do pay are not paying at rates comparable to other professional artists.

        • thomasbrady said,

          July 17, 2013 at 8:05 pm


          Your admonition, “don’t give your []ish away for free,” makes little sense. Shelley did not ‘work,’ but he lived a rough and tumble life, made important contacts, traveled a great deal, and yes, his me’tier was writing, and to the eternal glory of poetry, he “gave his work away for free.” He wrote for the important few, and his fame gradually spread. Would you have had Shakespeare demand money for his Sonnets which he passed around to his friends?

          You betray a certain bias when you say “just another wealthy person.” Shelley was unique. It’s actually a lot safer and healthier for a person to have a steady job. Shelley did not just ‘write write write.’ It’s not that simple. He suffered tragedy, he bled. If you don’t have to work, you most likely will have a short, unhappy life; there’s no reason to be productive, so it’s likely you will die of boredom or drink or madness. Shelley used the life he was given well.

          You want to reduce poetry (poetry!) to an exchange of dollars and cents. It’s a modern, common place view, but I find your opinion quite funny.


          • vangiggles said,

            July 17, 2013 at 10:13 pm

            tom, must be nice not to worry about money, that you would just give away your work for free….

            unfortunately, i find it offensive that 3 penny review pays twice as much for short stories as they do for poems, and that bill knott, for whatever reason, is currently giving his work away for free.

  18. Anonymous said,

    July 18, 2013 at 3:08 am

    The truly great poets have always been available for free.

    It’s called a library.

    That’s the reason they even wrote poetry.

    It’s called posterity.


    • vangiggles said,

      July 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      gbf, posterity is for punks. nobody cares. most libraries, public and private alike, pay for their collections. in fact, librarians are the publishing industries best source of income.

      • thomasbrady said,

        July 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm

        “posterity is for punks”??? That’s a new one…

        The principle is the same, whether it’s Shakespeare giving his Sonnets to his friends for free, or a library lending for free: it is sometimes an advantage to give poetry away for free.

        Poetry has lost its public. That’s another related issue which Scarriet has explored in-depth…

  19. vangiggles said,

    July 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    since you don’t believe me:

    • thomasbrady said,

      July 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm


      Well, of course. Nothing is free. I concede this truism.

      Bill Knott’s poetry is not free, either, then. I give my time to read it.


      • vangiggles said,

        July 18, 2013 at 7:45 pm

        but your time, as a reader, is nowhere near as valuable as the time mr knott put into the creation of his oeuvre, hence you should not be wasting your time reading his poems for free. it’s an insult to both him and you.

  20. vangiggles said,

    July 18, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    shakespeare wrote his sonnets to impress his peers and contemporaries, same as any other writer.

    • thomasbrady said,

      July 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      I don’t disagree with this, either.

  21. #103 support said,

    July 21, 2013 at 11:14 am

    103. Adam Kirsch


    What the average sensual man cannot forgive
    Or triumph over, slowly he forgets;
    By thirty-five or so begins to live
    With the faint metal taste of choked regret
    Flavoring every swallow. For romance
    He’ll never find with girls he’ll never meet,
    And plutocratic ease in the south of France,
    And the shouted homage of a trembling street,
    He learns in time to substitute a wife,
    Two weeks’ vacation, the “respect of peers”:
    The prolonged catastrophe we call a life
    Instead of the coming true of our worst fears.
    If genius is to carry the pristine
    Shock of perception to the bitter last,
    There was no purer genius: philistine,
    Uncompromising, foul mouth stuffed with rust.



    The cases sweating in the flower shop
    Preserve the daisy, lesser celandine
    And other stragglers banished from the strip
    That blooms along the Broadway median,
    Whose fume-assaulted corridor is kept
    Less as a landscape to get lost inside
    Than as a scrap of litmus paper, dipped
    Into the changing weather to provide
    Chemical confirmation of the spring;
    Or a St. Patrick’s ribbon that declares
    Allegiance to a country never seen;
    Or homeopathic remedy that cures
    With just a droplet where a dose would kill.
    Your deep lung would have suffocated where
    This April morning seems to give us all
    We need or want, whose breaths are shallower.

    Adam Kirsch

  22. #101 support said,

    July 21, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    101. Richard Howard


    Among the friends my mother found it mete, in her disparagement, to call “kept men”; John H——, like certain secrets, was best kept, till even his unseamed integument began to verify the poet’s verse: “we are the eyelids of defeated caves.” The time was past all keeping. Johnny aged,—enough to get himself what Mother called a “real job” (Mother never guessed how much work it took to keep a kept man’s life unreal); he got the best, of course: no longer kept but keeping—keeping watch over the hoard of Palazzo Guggenheim, guarded or maybe given away by Marini’s horse and rider erect on the Grand Canal.

    Peggy meanwhile was elsewhere. Having now a Fafner of her own to mind the art (how much had she ever minded?) she could leave town with a clear conscience—to buy more. Johnny’s tale abides, dilemma of a dedicated chatelain: “My dear, you’ve no idea what Venetians are, even visting types—the temporary Venetians: thieving magpies, all of them! Whatever’s not nailed down is…gone, and whatever is gets pried loose—gone too, God knows where! I can’t imagine selling the objects they contrive to steal—maybe they just keep them: ricordi di Venezia. What I do know is that every week, especially when the Biennale’s on, the dong of Marini’s horse or the dick of his happy rider would disappear, broken off for some vile or virtuous trophy—the one, the other, or the pair!—to deck what mantelpiece I dare not think…I asked the sculptor to do something (he’s from Naples, they know about looting there) and look what he came up with: these! Which bring to mind my last protector’s sleek hood-mascot on his Rolls, a crystal chien phallique, conveniently removable—it was Lalique, after all—when cruising rough neighborhoods, as we were wont to do, or parking in Parisian terrains vagues. Same principle. Devised, upon request, for our equestrian envie de bitte : I screw them in to have the Full Effect (if she’s in residence, or Alfred Barr drops in), unscrew them when I’m here alone—I know the drill, although I’m not so sure which is likelier to befit the horse and which the horseman… Peggy always says, ‘Who would notice?’ Well, I would, for one, but that’s the difference between life and art.”

    Richard Howard

  23. #104 support said,

    August 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    104. David Edgar (English playwright)

    … Dim light on a portrait of the COLONEL, in uniform, in India.
    Music fades.
    A spot fades up on the
    COLONEL, at the side of the stage. He is very old.

    In ’48. Came on home.
    Colonel Chandler. Monochrome.
    Another England,
    Rough and raw,
    Not gentle, sentimental as before.
    Became a politician, not to master but to serve:
    To keep a careful finger on the grassroots Tory nerve;
    Like any born to riches, not to plunder but to give:
    Always a little liberal, a great Conservative.
    But as his seat grows marginal, his power’s less secure,
    His responsive elder statements sound increasingly unsure;
    Colonel Chandler, past his prime:
    Dignified. Worthy. Out of time.
    Colonel Chandler, oyster-eyed,
    One fine summer morning, died.

    Lights. Empty set. ROLFE, now in his mid-50s, stands centre. He wears a black overcoat, with medals, and a poppy.

    In ’47. Came on home.
    Major Rolfe. A face of stone.
    Another England, seedy, drab,
    Locked in the dreams of glories she once had.
    The Major looks at England and bemoans her tragic fate,
    Condemns the mindless comforts of a flaccid, spongers’ state,
    Despairs of trendy idiocies repeated as a rote,
    While the knot of old school tiredness is still tight round England’s throat.
    Sees leaders fat with falsehood as they lick up every lie,
    The people’s blood grown sickly with their driving will to die.
    Major Rolfe, sees the light,
    Calls for a counter from the Right:
    Major Rolfe, starboard seer,
    Loses, for they will not hear.

    Immediately, a spot hits TURNER.

    In ’47. Came on home.
    Sergeant Turner, to a Midlands town.
    Another England, brash and bold,
    A new world, brave and bright and cold.
    The Sergeant looks at England, and it’s changed before his eyes;
    Old virtues, thrift and prudence, are increasingly despised;
    Old values are devalued as the currency inflates,
    Old certainties are scoffed at by the new sophisticates:
    And big capital and labour wield an ever-bigger clout,
    And it’s him that’s in the middle and it’s him that’s losing out —
    Sergeant Turner, NCO:
    Where’s he going? Doesn’t know.

    [Spotlight] on KHERA, at the side. He’s now in his early forties, bareheaded, short-haired, clean shaven. He wears the protective clothing of a foundry worker, and carries his mask and goggles in his hand.

    In ’58. Came on home.
    Gurjeet Singh Khera. To a Midlands town.
    Another England, another nation,
    Not the England of imagination.
    The labour market forces have an international will,
    So the peasants of the Punjab people factory and mill,
    The sacred kess and kanga, kachka, kara and kirpan
    The Sikh rejects so he can be a proper Englishman;
    Keep faith in human virtue, while attempting to condone
    The mother country’s horror at her children coming home.
    Gurjeet Singh Khera,
    Once a slave,
    Returns to haunt the Empire’s grave….

    — from the play Destiny by David Edgar

  24. #95 support said,

    August 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    95. William Kulik


    for Chris Thompson

    The in-laws are here, back from China where her daddy cut a deal with the Red entrepreneurs to “harvest organs”—you like that one?—from executed “enemies of the state” and he’s tickled pink. I’ve got my feet up after a long day at whatever I do; my second monster vodka’s kicking in and the smell of liver and onions beginning to fry are cushions against the wife yelling at her dad because Harry Woo—jailed by the Chinese government for eighteen years!—said today the organs are removed before the prisoners have died. And suddenly he’s here, right on my TV, saying it, followed by the six o’clock anchorman, a ringer for Rimbaud in the famous—is it 1870?—photo, down to the wifty cravat that keeps bobbing up and down on his Adam’s apple as he launches the typical nightly barrage of mayhem, extortion, abuse, adultery, abortion, rape and the myriad violations of the public trust. Yes, my poor Arthur, horrible workers for sure. One more drink can’t hurt, I think, watching Capital’s weird messengers power up: ghostly dancing underwear, a can of pop shooting over the Rockies—world’s greatest ejaculation in silver and green as I’m asking myself how did three thousand years of western culture come to this? But no worry, I’ve got one fine buzz that makes me laugh when a faded sitcom star appears, peddling a digital camera. “Like to diddle her,” I think, feeling very witty, but even though everything’s soft-focused and fuzzy, I know that outside, in the big-city twilight—as reported on TV—a knife-edge of psychopathy lies pooled on the sidewalk, threatening to seep beneath my triple-locked door. “Darkness visible,” I catch myself mumbling, in the same instant happy I still remember Milton when the new Country Queen comes on, big lips mouthing her latest hit, “Bite my latex.” Whoopee! Measured amount of cleavage visible, perfectly programmed to incite the likes of me: overworked and underfucked. But when I hear “Feel free to feel exactly what we want you to,” I can’t tell if it’s me or the TV. (I hope to hell I’m not an enemy of the state!) God, now she’s shaking it in my face… and I feel fine, really fine—bottle at my lips, tears of gratitude streaming down my cheeks—like Winston at the end of 1984 ! I hear the liver sizzling furiously now and I ask you: what’s not to like about dinner in America?

    William Kulik

  25. #105 support said,

    August 16, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    105. Frank Jacobs


    (With apologies to Edgar Allan Poe,
    to whom we owe a debt for “The Bells”)

    See the rising U.S. debt —
    Massive debt!
    Facing Armageddon and without a safety net!
    See it rising, rising, rising
    As we play a deadly game,
    While both parties, not surprising,
    Foul the air while emphasizing
    That the other side’s to blame!
    Feel the crunch, crunch, crunch
    Of a Congress out to lunch —
    And a spending spree that’s stretched us to the highest level yet!
    Adding debt, debt, debt, debt,
    Debt, debt, debt —
    To the whopping and eye-popping U.S. debt!

    See us shrugging off the debt —
    Giant debt!
    Trillions added yearly to our sorrow and regret!
    See big corporations hiding from the I.R.S. once more —
    It’s a gravy train they’re riding
    With their profits now residing
    In a bank account offshore!
    What a crock, crock, crock,
    With so many folks in hock —
    And the aid we are denying to a jobless, homeless vet —
    Curse the debt, debt, debt, debt,
    Debt, debt, debt —
    The unceasing and increasing U.S. debt!

    See us dealing with the debt —
    Surging debt!
    Saved from going under by the hefty loans we get!
    See us on our knees and pleading
    For some help from the Chinese —
    Just ten billion we are needing
    And it’s vital we’re succeeding,
    Which is why we’re on our knees!
    See us lose, lose, lose,
    Piling up more I.O.U.s —
    And as years go by we find we’re getting just a bit upset
    With the debt, debt, debt, debt,
    Debt, debt, debt —
    The eternal and infernal U.S. debt!

    See the future of the debt —
    Senseless debt!
    Dooming the unborn to thankless years of toil and sweat!
    See the looming devastation
    With the dollar down the drain
    And this once terrific nation
    Once the cause of admiration,
    Gone the way of Greece and Spain!
    See it soar, soar, soar —
    Ev’ry year a trillion more!
    If you still believe we’ll pay it off, then, sucker, place your bet
    On the debt, debt, debt, debt,
    Debt, debt, debt —
    The ascending, never-ending U.S. debt!

    Frank Jacobs

    • thomasbrady said,

      August 16, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      On the debt debt debt debt debt debt.

  26. #101 support said,

    August 16, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    101. Richard Howard

    Knowing When to Stop

    October, 1939

    …Destroy the dogs, Highness? Where did you ever get such an idea? That’s not our British way. It sounds more like some primitive practice than anything appropriate to the death of a modern public figure. You know the kind of thing I mean: Siegfried or Sardanapalus—this perished hero laid out on a pyre surrounded by his wives, his dogs, his things, all to be done away with, given to the flames along with his defeated flesh. Who could imagine anything like that in London today? Your Highness will never experience such barbarism here in Primrose Hill, on that I give you my word of honor as an English vet—than which, I venture to say, there can be, in such a case, no firmer guarantee: we don’t do such things!

    Of course we don’t, Dr. Gravesend, not any longer. But may I remind you even so (speaking as a foreigner) such things have been done. And having done things, just the once, becomes a ruinous reason for doing them again, even after so long an interruption. Perhaps the notion you did away with the dogs is a primitive atavism of mine. You see, for us Professor Freud was our patriarch, a kind of tribal hero, gone although never truly absent. It was because… Did you know—how could you know?—it was I who gave him the chows, first Jofi, then Lün. For Jews in his day, such creatures were not, as they are for us, (for me, at least) erotic household gods—vermin more likely, I had to laugh when my old friend would say: “Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and hate in their object relations.” They were his companions to the end, almost the end… You probably know what happened then, if you were sent for…

    No, Princess. I knew (it was all I knew) that nothing could keep the Professor from his visits to the quarantine kennels here at Ladbrook Grove. He crossed London every week to see Lün — played with her, talked to her for an hour. I myself had done the operation (ovarian cysts) on Jofi, so I could see for myself how moved he was by her sympathy during his own surgery: “as if she fathomed everything,” he kept saying, “One wonders when one will get used to it. But of course one cannot easily recover from seven years of intimacy…”

    Oh, the Professor and those “ones” of his! All the same, “one” brought Jofi to Paris—it can’t have been an easy maneuver—and on to London where you operated on her cysts, and “one” saw Lün through quarantine as well, and then they were with “one” for good, or so we thought, till the days of the last operations when putrid secondary infections ate a hole in the Professor’s cheek. The smell of which drove away the chows.

    Now that’s…I must confess I am surprised to hear his dogs forsook the Professor. No one mentioned that when I was sent for—not to destroy them, Princess—to take them back to Ladbrook Grove. We found a home for Lün; Jofi’s still here, you may see her whenever you please, though she’s too old to be placed with strangers now. I can’t help thinking how peculiar it is, the Professor being abandoned, rejected by his own dogs at the end…

    That was how he knew it must be the end. When the dogs no longer came to his bed but stood beside the door—not cowering but not allowing him to touch them—the Professor no longer refused sedation: “Now it is nothing but torture, and makes no sense any more. Remember our pact.” So Dr. Schur gave him the morphine then, and later that night our Professor died. Surely you can understand my seeing something heroic in the whole occasion, perhaps something primitive, as you say, something even barbaric about consenting to death when love is denied, yet something befitting these times when so much is taken away, so much lost… You know, I don’t believe I feel much need to visit Jofi… Better to leave the poor old girl in peace—she’s had a dog’s life. That’s one difference between us and them, Doctor: stench or no stench, I hope I’d have sufficient piety if not “pure love and hate in object relations” to kiss my master farewell.

    Richard Howard

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