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Hubert Cumberdale

My coffee is pretty hot. And black, I suppose.

Posted on 2007.08.17 at 12:06
It struck me recently that poetry is a dead art. I don't mean it's completely impossible to find the odd nuanced verse, but, typically, the painfully banal pieces that are held aloft as superlative by the apostles of "high art" these days can only be classified as utter dreck.

To Whit:

I am the last Napoleonic soldier. It's almost two hundred years later and I am still retreating from Moscow. The road is lined with white birch trees and the mud comes up to my knees. The one-eyed woman wants to sell me a chicken, and I don't even have any clothes on.

The Germans are going one way; I am going the other. The Russians are going still another way and waving good-by. I have a ceremonial saber. I use it to cut my hair, which is four feet long.

This is a so-called "prose poem" by current Poet Laureate Charles Simic.

I found the above link via Aaron Haspel's always fascinating "God of the Machine" blog. Make sure to visit and read his own version of a Simic "poem" - "Holiday in North Florida". The idea of satirical mimesis of this subject amuses me and I may construct a "Simic" of my own in short order (beyond the title of this post, of course).


(Anonymous) at 2007-08-19 20:18 (UTC) ()
Hmm. I checked out the link, and while I think there are some nicely worded lines---I particularly like "It's almost two hundred years later and I am still retreating from Moscow." But I can't call these poems. In fact, to dub it a "prose poem" is a jack-ass way of getting around the fact that they aren't poems at all. They just sound like ol' Simic was sitting around telling some weird, made-up stories.

So I'm going to try to write one right now.

I went out after dark last night and found that I should have stayed home. I met a bum on the street who asked me for a dollar. When did they stop asking for spare change?

I pulled my pockets inside out and shrugged. The bum then offered me something from his shopping cart bounty. I declined with a bow and turned back toward my block.

When I returned to my place, I found that my keys were locked in.
(Anonymous) at 2007-08-19 20:19 (UTC) ()
Oops. My first sentence doesn't make sense. Not many editors manage to introduce errors.
kocane at 2007-08-19 22:39 (UTC) ()
Might be more of Simic if you included the odd sharp left turn...ie:

I met a bum last night. Sores on his ankles and wrists, breath of fervent ardor misting like bourbon ghosts. He said I reminded him of his son. I said something in response that felt soft but sounded sharp.

The cars on the streets were loud velvet carpets.

(Anonymous) at 2007-08-19 22:45 (UTC) ()
Keys being locked in wasn't quite left turn...it was a merging left. I knew I should have said something completely unrelated.
(Anonymous) at 2011-02-15 01:51 (UTC) ()


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