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Upon Finding Poetry in My Mailbox on a Winter Day in L.A.

Upon Finding POETRY in My Mailbox
on a Winter Day in L.A.

   A winter day, yet the air kisses 80 degrees.
   Zephyrs play about the fountain
   And dork the happly dingles
   Blossomed on the lemon trees.

   Little birdies sing tweet-tweet;
   There are clouds making dreams in the sky.
   I see Merwin the Squirrel * toss the nut
   That lands Parisi square on his butt
   Deep in the garden of poesy.

   Oh wondrous winter in L.A.,
   Can Paradise be better?
   I'll grunt out a poem for Bobby Pinsky
   And friends, and wipe it on a letter.

* "Merwin the Squirrel" is my name for W. S. Merwin, a poet I generally despise; he is enormously prolific and useless. He is of such stature as a commodity now that any piece of crap (nut) he writes editors like Parisi pick up and publish, even though doing so lands them on their ass, which is where their aesthetic tastes reside. "Parisi" is Joseph Parisi, the editor of POETRY [Chicago], now master of $100 million in grant monies from Lilly. The more these people make themselves relevant, the more they are irrelevant, meaning nothing, as is the whole scene the poem tries to convey, one of ennui and triteness, tweeting birds and playful, pointless zephyrs, a poetry of fantasy, disconnection, and utter self-indulgence. The poem is an expression of complete contempt; my reality is that of a different weather zone entirely--but that is getting into a lot of paraphrasing. The absurdity of the imagery and the sing-song delivery carries the full burden or gut-meaning of the poem, if it finally has one ...

Michael McClintock (Pasadena, CA). I am "retired." I worked for 25 years at the County of Los Angeles Public Library. All things considered, the library work was good, but there was still the crushing weight of a bureaucracy and, with us, a political agenda run by the Grand Sheepherders in the form of the Board of Supervisors and this agenda frequently interfered with the goals of a free public library, squandering millions each year on useless crap and politically-motivated, programmed pabulum. Despite that, the Library's reading rooms were always filled, and wisdom and freedom glinted in many a bloodshot, rheumy eye and in the clearer, hungry eyes of those just beginning to make their long run from society's diversionary madness and mind-slaughter: people discovering independently and for the first time that herd-life was living death, and that there were possibilities of a life armed with books and words outside the herd. [I] cut through my own self-induced suppression of that kind of thinking. This is where my training from childhood through middle-age to be a worker ant, obedient and silent, becomes my internal enemy--the worst, most lethal enemy we can have, as it lives and grows inside of us, next to the heart and in the brain. To kill it, bag it, throw it into the river of terrors is a cold struggle ...

The poem below reflects a conversation Cuate Berriozabal and I had over a year ago. He'd dropped over for a chat. On my table was a copy of Poets & Writers with Yusef Komunyakaa on the cover in one of his carefully lit and posed studio photos of himself in the role of Fierce Poet Godling in a Field of Grain. Clutched in Cuate's paw was a collection of verse by Rita Dove. We shared these treasures and speculated on our own futures as poets. As I recall, the photo of Yusef we badly soiled and smeared as a coaster for our sweaty summer drinks. By the end of our little talk it was clear to us what we had to do. The phrase "do workshops" is intended as a parallel to the Yuppie palaver of "doing lunch" or as in "let's do lunch" ... probably should keep that, as "hold" or "stage" don't carry the same contempt of turning their own language back on them. No, "These three do workshops" is the right line ...
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Title Annotation:NEW POETRY ET AL
Author:McClintock, Michael
Publication:The American Dissident
Article Type:Poem
Date:Jun 22, 2003
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