My poetry does not go down well with some of my colleagues,
who refuse to meet me even for coffee,
do not answer my letters, and will not explain
what it is about it that so offends their taste.
I would not give a damn, much less waste
precious breath denouncing their cowardly game
did they not occupy posts of authority
in important milieus, were not the poverty
of their visions a lion in the path of knowledge.
If they do not consider the latter’s pursuit
an end sufficient unto itself, what kind of fruit
can it bear in their reviews, at their college?
Imaginative culture seems to many unwholesome,
transcending—as it necessarily does—the limits of both
the naturally possible and the morally acceptable;
but that is precisely its essential function,
to shock the upright bourgeois, cause convulsions
in those whose containment’s impeccable,
tear down barricades of imaginations smug
and complacent, pull the worn-out rug
from under the feet of cultural establishments:
all things more easily said than actually done,
to be sure, especially in contexts such as the one
we live in today, where nothing appears to be banished
and anything goes as long as it stays in its place.
I cannot be certain that this is the case
as far as those buttoned-up poets are concerned—
the techniques of evasion they slyly have chosen
to avoid taking positions out in the open
allow only guesswork until more is learned—
but the lame excuses one has come up with
to justify the disappearing act that he did
after he had had a chance to examine my verses
suggests they have indeed hit a vulnerable spot
in the irremovable armor of that titled lot.
Of what relevance to us is this excursus?
It brings to our attention a hidden scandal
that leaves more than one of us holding a handle,
while all our ponderable cultural baggage
has dropped like dead weight to the floor.
Flung back on the street by revolving doors
and bouncer-like critics who block all without badges,
we’ve no choice but to accept the deal,
settle for a banana, and slip on its peel.
But, in a world more and more like a circus,
it seems less and less foolish to be cast as clowns.