Poem That Needs No Introduction
…… -an excerpt
Listen, I have endured so much bad art in my lifetime
that my brain actually throbs and pulses
in the manner of a 1960s comic-book supervillain
and my skull threatens to burst at the seams like a lychee nut
at the mere thought of those tuneless bands and lousy etchings
and the earnest readings in coffee houses
smelling of clove cigarettes,
pretentious photos of phallomorphic icebergs,
the opening at the gallery hung with stillborn elephants—
what could you say?—and one unforgettable night
a conceptual dance performance akin to ritual sacrifice
with the audience as victims—as if art
might prove the literal death of me—all this,
all this and so much more,
only to find myself here, in Bratislava,
at the Ars Poetica poetry festival,
yet again drinking red wine from a plastic cup
while the poets disclaim in languages
dense and indecipherable as knotted silk, thinking, well,
what could be better than this?
Perhaps it would be better if the air-conditioning worked
and the keg of Zlatý Bažant had not run dry
but the local wine is unexpectedly delicious, hearty as a wild boar’s
and the very existence of such an exuberantly cacophonous conclave
in this diminutive and innocuous backwater of Mitteleuropa
makes me yearn to do something hearty and wine-soaked and
no, not boorish—to shout spontaneous bebop musings
like the hipster Beatnik poet Fred from Paris
or crack wise like the balding Fran O’Hara imitator from Vienna
or sing like the yodeling, pop-eyed jokester from Prague
or simply intone with great seriousness like the well-mannered poets
from Warsaw and Wroclaw, Berlin and Budapest and Brno.
o river sand,
sink deeper and fling yourself
into my whirlpool!
blue-flower gas-ring octopus—
what brings you
to the rain forest, amigo?
Well, that came out a bit like Basho imitating Corso
but the thought is what counts when it is 10:45 and you are drunk
enough to believe a poem scribbled on a festival program
could change the world
and when someone says time is an invisible marauder
I shout Fuck you! And everybody smiles.
This poem will change the world!
. . .
by Campbell McGrath
from Nouns & Verbs
Harper Collins, 2019