It Used to Be More Fun.
It used to be more fun to be a poet start the day with coffee and a sense of bowling over people in a public space with words that tell how I'm bowled over this minute by the light that pours across the city and its various shoes and uniforms of occupation troops whose ways of life I'd never share but for the spaces we separately passed through I thought that I was different as I filled those yellow pads with words written in the styles of heroes I wanted to be famous as, but younger, the New York Ingenue School of poetry and life but now I know that saying that I'm different from the rest because I make a poem instead of shoes and uniforms is how I drove my car toward death too long--it wasn't sloth or lust or self-absorption that put me where I ended up, I was a poet , the same excuse and boast my heroes used--the one who was too drunk to see the headlights coming, the one who never left his bed, the connoisseur of cure and re-addiction, the messed-up child it used to be more fun before I knew that what I thought I was and wanted was death and my embroidery a shroud. Say it loud, I'm not proud of handiwork like that. I used to think that poetry could serve the revolution and that the revolution would transform the world because the only way that I could see things ever changing was from outside so I hitched my fortune to a threadbare star. It was more fun to write against the war when we thought the gifts our heroes the downtrodden of the world bore were truth and justice instead of one more scam in Vietnam my poems and self-righteous voice helped give birth to boat people in Cambodia to unspeakable crimes and now my "US Out of Nicaragua" rap gives succor to another ominous bunch of agrarian reformers, this one with a top cop whose first name is "Lenin," a touch straight out of a darkly funny novel by Naipaul or Evelyn Waugh It used to be more fun when other places seemed better and more noble than America even the obsessive money-grubbing swamp of sanctimony that's America these days it used to be more fun when poetry didn't cost so much and when I didn't need the government to give me money to write poems I liked what poetry could do to street life, even and especially when it came from the streets I liked the poise and energy and grace of black poets and gay poets and Dadaists and unschooled natural artists who fell into the workshops through the open doors it was more fun before the mass of canny grant recipients of many hues took over it was more fun in my director's chair writing poems in an attic than as a director, hurting friends regretfully in the service of collective goals it was more fun before I knew my poetry could never be a spaceship to speed me far away, or that I'd always be outside it, like a parent, seeing its resemblance to my old intentions but unable to make it work and trusting it less for the truths it told than for the lies it didn't
TIM DLUCOS (1950-1990) was a prominent younger poet who was active in both the Mass Transit poetry scene in Washington, D.C., in the early 1970s and New York's downtown literary scene in the late seventies and eighties. His books include Je Suis Ein Americano (Little Caesar Press, 1979), A Fast Life (Sherwood Press, 1982), and Entre Nous (Little Caesar, 1982). He died of AIDS on December 3,1990. In 1996, David Trinidad edited Powerless, Dlugos's selected poems, for High Risk Books. A comprehensive edition of Dlugos's poems, A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos, edited by Trinidad, is forthcoming from Nightboat Books in 2011.
photograph by Jack Shear
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|Title Annotation:||five poems|
|Publication:||The American Poetry Review|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2010|
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