Yeats Reads to Me II

Yeats reads to me from a page.

Warm voice cloaking the subtle trespasses of his age

Slanted lilts creeping into the corners of lips

Thin with the incense of patriotic quips

He tells me Ireland is in trouble,

But I am standing in line for 5 dollar noodles

The latest Korean craze, extended expiry date

Would Fenians appreciate monosodium glutamate?

I am roused to fight, to scream Republic

Though it is not in the slightest my conflict

Is it treason to feel patriotism for an isle of green?

Is it Shakespearean to live in a world of machines?

Are all oppressors reincarnations of mad kings,

Do all soldiers wield the heroism of Henry the Fifth?

A happy breed of men in their little whirl,

We few, we happy few, a band of brothers scratching spiritual on paper cut from trees in the New World

Fashion me Oriental, fashion me a boy dressed as a girl

Addicted to your Californian supermarket infiltrating the Pacific

The best minds of my generation are developing software, they don’t care for poetics.

Can we discuss terminal anguish as a beautiful complex

Find erotic shapes in the pink smoke of sarin gas

Can Bruegel make prose out of black rock, out of black smog hazing over the sidewalk

Icarus can make legends out of suffering, but I can’t make words out of feeling.

You too, were on a quest for adjectives. I am an uncertain bisexual with thick thighs and fragile ankles and I don’t know if I can be conscious of Time’s sagging breasts and flaky foreskin and still call myself a hot-blooded youth with passion boiling.

Teach me fertility in infidelity

Teach me how to be poetically queer that I can walk the streets with wild-coloured hair and rolled-up sleeves and still be me when they whistle at me.

God has a simpler solution:

Absolute chastity, absolute misery.

But I don’t want to think about Sunday mornings parched with the touch-starved celibacy of degeneracy, about holy irrelevancy redeemed only by the sanctity of sanctioned pederasty

How about I just fall asleep?

For maybe — two nights – staggered nervousness with hyphens like Emily Dickinson’s — laments stutter sleep patterns like the stunted sexuality of a spinster

I too write poems about the moon being a loner

There’s so much of her in me

Though I’m disturbed by your attachment to virginity

I can’t sleep for thinking who I might sleep with

Certainly not –Emily–

Perhaps Hemingway

Chauvinism always had a way of enchanting me

Keats, you should give me tips

How do I weave romanticism with eroticism on a Grecian vase and still have him think I’m not stuck in that space where young girls live in eternal want but never leave to hold a man in the fist of her hand

How do I talk about love – grovelling on granite, bored astride the funeral of a grandmother whose only familial purpose was to serve?

How do I talk about fantasy and make it real

How do I write what I feel —

How do I show him I think his wind-tousled hair and chain-smoking flair and far-off dreaming are prose so pretty, free verse muttered freely, wordless beauty and nothing but poetry I can’t write but has already been written?

How about I just retreat into complacency with the simplicity of a Happy Meal shared between we happy few over the soundtrack of a whining pop star invoking Byron on an electric guitar


Yeats reads to me from a page

Through the distortion of a recorder thus speaks the sage,

“To argue with oneself is to arrive at truth.”

I tell him that there is nothing truer to me than a disturbed sleep plagued by dreams of ghost ships docking

Awaiting at virgin ports and breaking the next day for nothing

I tell him I dream of the sea because it is romantic.

He invites me to retreat to Innisfree, I ask if there is wireless connectivity

You know, Wordsworth had a sister just like me

She too, was preoccupied with Facebook

They scoff and tell me to write poetry

But to write poetry is to suspend yourself from dying, and I am through with this Happy Meal and waiting to head out to sea.


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