Let this poem stand in, let this ill-tempered poem be
My reaction to the tragedy.
Why ill-tempered? Because no sorrow
Lives, except that which I borrow.
A poet doesn’t put on displays,
And is true never to one occasion, but to all our yesterdays.
My nerves are bad. I will feel sad tomorrow.
I know I will. I will feel sorrow for myself whenever I die,
And that will be real sorrow.
I don’t feel sorrow now, so why should I try?
Yes, that’s right. This is honesty. Do you feel the true, lyric I?
Blame it on my muse, who hides in the real shadows,
Who, as I make my way to this poetry reading,
Might be around the corner—I might see her with someone else;
Nothing I see on the news can compete with her,
Even those I see on the news who are dead. Or crying, or bleeding.
All distant from me: the experimental poem, a flag’s color,
All that’s public: blah, blah, blah, buying and signing and selling books.
Blame ill-temper on love. I feel ill, I feel strange things where no one looks.