We were hanging out drinking a few shots with
that asshole Metastopholies.
He (as usual) was trying to boug a few drinks, and (as
usual) we..ignored him. At work as usual it was one
long fucking day. I was stuck putting up the sequoias
and disagreed; God liked red, I..liked black. And
somehow the boss (I won’t use her real name) told us
that our work was getting “sloppy’. Too many species,
she said, too many ferns, something like that. You are
always spending way too much time arguing and I’ll
have to let one of you go, the temporal mental bitch
said. “Fine!” I said, “I quit!” Buddha, Muhammad and a
few others were already gone and had decided to start
their own companies. And me, well I was just tired of
all of the insipid & corporate shit where the motto
was “Heaven… we care”. And this action left God whom I
always thought to be a pretty decent kid in general,
to run the factory. And for awhile we kept in touch.
“How’s it goin?” I’d ask and he’d say “Great, but I’m
really busy” “We’ll get together for a beer sometime,
ok?” Ok. But more & more the silence increased. Never
a reply back, never a how are you and never a word through the
psychic dimensional thought. Eventually I found out
that God had taken over and that he had been bumped
up. It figures…I thought. He always was more of the
corporate type than me.
Its been awhile now and I haven’t heard from him in a
few eons. I heard that he never really recovered from
that incident with his kid. Stay away from beautiful
women, we told him, stop trying to be a hero. But he,
never listened and almost…lost everything. Recently I
transformed myself into a man and I caught a glimpse
of him in a bar in NY City. Timothy McVey had just
blown up the federal building with children in it and
God was sitting drunk on a bar stool drinking red
wine. He was really fucked up and he had aged
something awful. “Bartender! Give me another fucking
glass!” he said. They kicked him out and he
disappeared stumbling into the night. I was saddened.
The firm is going under and he’s losing control, other
power hungry kids are creating technology & spirit
advances. God’s becoming an antique, but I know he
won’t retire. Me, well don’t worry about me. I’ll be
fine. These days I’m living as a cat owned by a girl
going thru a tough time. I know where I’m needed. And
even though no one remembers all of the work that I’ve
done its alright. The cycles of the universe go on
because love, redemption and faith never stop and
Oh and by the way, do you like coffee? Good…that was
Poetry is dying. Actually, it’s pretty dead already for all intents and purposes and the rise of performance poetry slams is doing nothing to help matters. I know, I used to be a performance poet.
The first poetry slam competition was held in Chicago in 1984. Named after a brutal wrestling move, the slam saw poets perform original pieces for a live audience who voted for a winner. The early slam poets railed against what they pejoratively referred to as page poetry. They demanded, along with Bukowski, that poetry “have guts”. They wanted to democratise poetry and drag it from the academic ivory tower.
But there never was an ivory tower. There was no cabal of posh people who had purposely made poetry unintelligible. Poetry has always been words on a page, open to anyone. The politicisation of art and the drawing of sectarian lines continues to damage poetry to this today.
Like sipping a fine wine, reading poetry cannot be rushed. It reveals its pleasures over time, rewarding the careful reader with something new and beautiful each time. It runs bang against the grain of our quick-fix culture. It is already a lost discipline. I have taught poetry to hundreds of children aged seven to 14 and not one of them could name me a poet beyond Shakespeare.
A further nail in the coffin is the rise of poetry slams. I have performed at many slams and the audience is almost always half drunk and if you want to win you have to pitch your poem pretty low. The result is a scene rife with the poetic equivalent of nob jokes – and plenty of actual nob jokes.
The only division in poetry is between those people willing to take the time to read it and those who will not. When Emily Dickinson said only “the fairest” may enter her house of “possibility”, she wasn’t being elitist –she was putting up a barrier against the lazy.
Most slam poems are not strong enough to be published in even minor poetry journals. And that’s fine; maybe they don’t want to be. Then why attack the poems that do? It’s like there is an oedipal urge to kill the art that made it. We cannot allow slam poetry to replace the role poetry plays in our lives. The threat is there.
There is a school of thought that thinks slams are the answer. The slams I have attended have little to do with poetry and everything to do with a Darwinian death match where the audience picks the winner like some blood-crazed Circus Maximus mob.
Poetry, like all art, whispers its message and we must learn to slow down and take the time to hear it.
~ NATHAN A THOMPSON
FRIDAY 01 FEBRUARY 2013