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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
Author:Dlugos, Tim
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Jul 1, 2010
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