The most positive men are the most credulous.”
— Alexander Pope
Rest your eyes on my verse here
and hear of famous dead white males;
the century numbered twenty
we’ll terminate like coffin nails.
He opens doors for all the damsels
‘tho most get shut right in his face;
stuffèd shirts are near extinct
but this one hasn’t noticed yet.
There’s few things more pathetic
than a boomer know-it-all;
with tales of once upon a time
I rather get emetic.
The landings on the moon
and/or the Soviet collapse
are about as riveting
as Sinatra’s favorite drink.
Please spare us sagas of John Cage,
Picasso or, worse still, Christo;
I couldn’t give a damn at all
about jurassic übermensch.
Don’t hand me courtship, love, bouquets
or gallantry that’s past passé;
that all went out with tulpenwoede, 1
masgisterium and Don Quixote.
Honor and propriety
atrophied like JFK;
not that there was that much back then
when news reports were bubble baths.
Here is our hero, woebegone,
a relic in the Smithsonian;
he’ll tell you World War II was right
because what sucked was kristallnacht.
He’s got the moral compass
and he votes for higher taxes;
he’s fair and square and sagacious
and knows which way to the egress. 2
He’s hip to Cummings and digs Plath
but thinks Bukowski’s just a laugh;
he’s read both Tropics and Ulysses, too
but, privately, prefers Gatsby.
He’s seen it all — from
the Titanic to the Hindenburg;
from Vietnam to Three Mile Isle —
fresh vices from old ones deferred.
Through the room the pundits come and go
appalled by Andres Serrano.
Sententious is his opinion
and it’s most stentorian;
the New York Times keeps him abreast
of which suit costs more than the rest.
He knows the system should play right
and never once be prejudiced;
it’s not his fault he was born white
and next in line up on the list.
Regarding women’s liberation, and I quote,
he acknowledges that history is exigent;
but recalls that when the ladies got the vote
prohibition was their first accomplishment.
He got married after college (not everybody has —
marriage starts out passionate then ends up Alcatraz);
and ’tho his wife beshrews him, he stays loyally in place
(while most other people get divorced for a change of pace).
He’s got his principles, they’re as tedious as him —
half the time he got them from some self-help book he skimmed;
his daughter’s vegetarian, his son’s ‘exploring’ gender
and stuck in traffic by himself, he sees his human nature.
The car is low-fat,
the children have braces;
he’s due for promotion,
the dog just got neutered.
His wife has stopped smoking,
he’s shaved off his mustache;
his friends are white-collar,
his blood pressure is normal.
He paints his walls beige
and he vacuums the lawn;
he minds his own business
and he switched to decaf.
His wife’s working part-time,
her libido is fine;
inflation is stable and profits are up
since they out-sourced the unions (which were mainly corrupt).
His watch loses time,
his hairline’s receding;
he’s online all night
but the wife doesn’t mind.
He snores when he sleeps,
he dreams without sound;
the driveway is shoveled
and life is a cipher.
Thousands of years, men rode horses
then, in a blink, the Ferris Wheel;
Mozart, Haydn and et al
got flash replaced by bump ‘n’ grind.
Democracy’s the quandary —
the more all can, the less it’s worth;
when everyone’s eximious,
genius is pedestrian.
He’s been in psychoanalysis
ten years but now works on his abs;
he used to play a mean guitar
’til learning Spanish took its place.
But I won’t have this sturm und drang
detritus from a long lost age;
Babe Ruth, Lindbergh and Errol Flynn
are brontosaurus bones to me. 3
What do I care for metanarrative
or such neuroses of privilege?;
why would I entertain beliefs
in a priori weltanschauung?
Now, thanks to gizmos once foreboded
the 20th century, in all of its glory,
can be zip-filed and then downloaded
in one quick suppository.
1. “Tulipomania,” a Dutch economic phenomena in the 1630’s, in which a speculative market for tulips, especially rare and fragile strains, resulted in futures contracts’ profitability reaching margins so high that a single bulb sold, at least on paper, for the price of a luxury house, several tons of food, or the annual income of a wealthy merchant.
2. P.T. Barnum’s New York Museum famously featured a sign, ‘This Way To The Egress,’ which many patrons presumed led to another exotic exhibit in the many-roomed building. Going through the exit which led to the street, these semi-literate unfortunates could only re-enter the museum with purchase of a new admission.
3. In 1877, renown paleontologist O. C. Marsh ‘discovered’ the Brontosaurus dinosaur, which was actually an Apatosaurus, recently discovered by Marsh’s rival, Edward Cope. Desiring his own famous claim (and lacking an entire skeleton), Marsh substituted a differing skull, one of the Camarasaurus, and proceeded to push his ‘find’ through the scientific community. The error was discerned as early as 1903 but museum curators and publishing ancillaries continued to substantiate what had become popular perception.
Craig Kurtz resides at Twin Oaks Intentional Community where he writes poetry while simultaneously surviving the dream. Recent work has appeared in Aerie Literary Journal, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Burningword Literary Journal, Conclave: A Journal of Character, Danse Macabre, Drunk Monkeys, Maudlin House, The Penmen Review, Poetry Quarterly, Teeth Dreams, Veil: A Journal of Darker Musings and Zouch Magazine.