They’re so broad-minded they might like what I’m
About to say: “In plain American,
The language of the streets, let’s praise the time
When Harry, plucky rooster, gave ’em hell.”
But no, my foot gets in their way. It balks them.
Like this, it goes. And this. See how the line
Comes halting forth. One might trip over it.
And limp off, sore, nursing the bad, bad foot.
While these must dance untrippingly, and words
Come tripping off their tongues in prose fandangos,
Reeling through open forms, their manifesto
A studious ignorance of pentameters.
Cursing their natural fathers, they eschew
Old, worn-out Shakespeare. Shit, Mercutio,
Take that. Die, dog. Choke on your own discharge.
These free-verse guys have pulled the chain on you.
These high and mighty let their regular thoughts
Spiral down toilet throats with you old, square ones.
Pumped with breath-pauses, growing round and free,
Inspired, they now take flight. Oh, watch them soar
Out of their windows, over the startled streets,
Loosed by their slack, thin lines, raised up by pals’
Cheers, jokes, and dogmas wafting from the mountain—
Like puffed-up windbags full of angry gas.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 2 Number 8, on page 65
Copyright © 2022 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com