I wasn’t born with a club foot
I didn’t fight in Vietnam
I didn’t teach at Columbia
I wasn’t fooled by Nixon’s charms
My generation was as lost as Hemingway’s
And just as productive.
I didn’t escape Minnesota in a snowstorm,
I didn’t go mad at Arfderydd
I didn’t smash a guitar at Woodstock
I didn’t drown in Delacroix
My generation was just as angry as Townshend’s
And just as destructive.
Arfderydd is pronounced Arf-der-ith (“th” as in father)
They say, “Don’t confuse Hamlet with Shakespeare,”
Bill wasn’t an introspective indecisive Dane,
Byron wasn’t Byronic,
And Dylan never shot anyone named Grey.
But can you separate art from artist?
Could you enjoy the poetry of an unashamed
pederaster (not a pedophile!) member of NAMBLA,
Loving boys like a Greek philosopher?
Would you read a novelist you knew was a Nazi,
Even if none of his characters ever gassed a Jew?
Could you become lost in the mythic meters of
Primeval prose poems written by a serial adulterer?
What about Haiku written by a westerner who thinks
A $15 minimum wage just isn’t right?
You can’t give support to such horrible human beings,
But what if they’re too dead to profit from book sales?
Your favorite holocaust surviving Hollywood director
Turns out to be a pedophilic rapist,
Now his best made movies make you vomit
Just seeing his name on the screen.
Did Picasso’s paintings change
When you learned of his misogyny,
Or did you?
Poem #22 for National Poetry Writing Month (aka #NaPoWriMo)
Allen was in Asgard reciting America and
Singing the Buddhist Bible Blues for All-Father Odin
While Bobby and Baldr compared notes concerning
Daily dreams of darkness, depression, and death.
Byron rode up and down Bifröst bridge
Writing a poem about Don Juan
(No, not that one, the new one!)
Marcus Aurelius read the mythologies of Midgard,
Studied philosophy with Plato,
Admiring the stoicism of Socrates,
As Rimbaud wrote rhyming prose about Ragnarök,
Containing nothing but the truth,
Delivering it to Valhalla for the consideration of
Siddhartha, Thor and Wōđanaz.
Poem #3 for National Poetry Writing Month (aka #NaPoWriMo)
When I started this blog my intention was to share prose as well as poetry (though poetry will likely always be my main focus), but I have neglected to post any prose pieces until now.
Summer of a Doormouse is an unfinished prose project that I haven’t done any signifigant work on in many years. I have hopes of finishing it in some form someday, but, until then, I want to share it here and mayb get some feedback.
The Summer of a Doormouse
by John W. Leys
“When one subtracts from life infancy (which is vegetation), –sleep, eating, and swilling – buttoning and unbuttoning—how much remains of downright existence? The summer of a doormouse.”
– George Gordon Noel, Lord Byron (1788-1824) Journal Entry, dated 7 December 1813 Continue reading
Oðinn, Myrddin, Whitman, Blake,
Can’t you see what’s now at stake,
Who’s for real and who’s a fake?
Its time for poets to sing their songs,
Inspire people to right some wrongs,
Leaving hate in the past, where it belongs.
Isaiah, Mohammad, Byron, Hughes,
Any idea what we stand to lose
When we’ve lost our very right to choose?
Fascism marching down our streets,
The government peeking beneath our sheets
Justice and Truth contemplate defeats.
A storm brewing in the night,
We all know what is wrong and what is right,
Now is the time to stand and fight.
Oðinn = O-thin (th as in “this”)
Myrddin = Mer-thin (the as in “this”)
Image is The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in the Sun by William Blake
“All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name “ – Bob Dylan, 1965
It goes unspoken,
But sometimes it’s written
Delivered by an electric horseman
Riding a Siamese kitten
It’s always been understood
By those who’re in the know
The zombies don’t often believe it
‘Cuz it doesn’t often show
Their life is led by candlelight
They don’t know who to trust
As they spend the night in the tub
Watching their toy trains rust
Don Juan’s sitting next to Lola
Playing hard to get
Holding out for younger flesh
As he drinks himself to debt
Lola envies the Zulu princess
‘Cuz baby got more back than he do
But she don’t pay him no mind no how
As she paints the building blue
Byron and Shelley are arguing again
Over whose turn it is to speak
Lola’s about to come unglued
‘Cuz Juan’s been visiting the Superfreak
Byron’s writing Layla a letter
To explain why Shelley can’t play
While Shelley’s sending a postcard
To explain why Byron couldn’t stay
The zombies want our secret
So that they to can be like us
But if they don’t wise up soon
They’re liable to miss the Magic Bus
13 July 1995
To Lord Byron, On the Nature of Immortality
You wanted to be a hero,
An uncommon want
In a world whose clay footed heroes
Are gleefully toppled by the mob.
A risky ambition
For someone with just one good foot
To stand on in the first place.
But you saw it as a challenge,
In that oddly quixotic way of yours,
Mixed and hidden within the melancholy noble
And shielded by that satirical tongue.
You swam the Hellespont,
Swimming for Glory, as Leander for Love.
You traveled the continent
In search of adventure. And something more.
With two good feet on the ground
You could have been a fearless warrior
Or an adventurous sailor,
Like so many of your infamous kin.
Lord knows they knew nothing but success.
But who would be a poet
Who had anything better to do?
That’s not how heroes are made.
Wars are the hero makers
And that was the one game you just couldn’t play.
That is until Greece called you away
From that last attachment in Italy
To war, leeches, and Death
In the swamps of Missolonghi.
They still call you a hero there today
Naming streets and babies after you
And erecting monuments in the mud
Near to the spot where you expired
Barely aware that you had a life
Before you stepped on their soil.
10 August 1998 – 8 April 1999
I thought of you today, Allen Ginsberg,
As I often do when the howls from
Desolation Row enrapture my mind.
Rapid fired images stolen from
Dreams and nightmares of America.
Starving in the streets like
Hysterical angel headed hipsters
And raggedy vagabond doctors
Crouched in darkened doorways
Snarling, scratching at the
Constable’s carriage for
A scrap of bread.
Disfigured by a clubfootedness of the heart
No visible limp or gait
No sign to alert parent or peer
To the barely bearable weight
Achieving as much or more
With seemingly little effort
A heart strains under expectations weight
Praying from this earth to be severed.
Love weighs as much as hatred
Sometimes even moreso
Surrounded by family and friends
Isolated and lonesome as Caruso
They all want a hero
Not an uncommon want, it seems
But in whom does a hero confide
The true darkness of his dreams?
(May 5th, 2007 – March 11th, 2015)
This poem is, of course, the source of the title of this blog.