After dreaming on and off all last night of falling rain, I woke to find this poem on a sheet of foolscap someone had left in the old typewriter I still keep on the shelf. I surmise it is a response to my poem, A Malison.
tell me mr why so glum question mark
yr time will go and ours will come.
why so bitter question mark why so vexed question mark
you ve had yr turn and we are next.
for that s how evolution works
progress comes in fits and jerks.
the future s not as bad as it appears
a lot can happen in a billion years.
roaches will learn to dig and build
and after the sun explodes we ll be here still.
survival of the fittest is another term for fate.
we roaches understand. we wait.
Cockroach, eater of refuse, crawler
in corners, inhabitant of dark spaces,
unwanted denizen of all our
proud modern cities, scourge of all races;
disgusting, vile, unkillable
by any but the heaviest tread
or most corrosive chemical;
prolific, fecund, Darwinianly bred
to survive any adversity:
though your species will continue
long after the end of humanity
it consoles me somewhat that in two,
or four, — at most five billion years —
the Sun will explode in your sky
and your Earth will boil and sear
and every last one of you will also die.
(a book review in verse)
Much had I travell’d in the realms of gold
And never found a blessed thing to eat;
For laurels, though they may smell very sweet,
As nourishment – try one? – they leave you cold.
By not one teacher was I ever told
There was a land both lowly and obscene
That Bill Zaranka ruled as his demesne!
His book was sent me by a flame of old
Bought from wherever such odd things were selling;
And now, some decades late, to write I’ve hasted:
For though I know that flowers are for smelling
I were a liar if I kept from telling
How many precious hours and days I’ve wasted
Since first I of Zaranka’s garland tasted.
“Here he drank pastis with the mayors of the Basses-Alpes, and even found time to lecture on Edgar Allan Poe, although his new false teeth made it difficult for him to speak French.”
How pleasant to know Mr. Eliot!
With his Nobel Prize and ironical eyes
How pleasant to know Mr. Eliot!
He exhibits a mystical, mischievous dread
And he smokes French tobacco and lies in his bed
As he waits for the world to fall in on his head
(Taking comfort in knowing his poetry’s read);
And everyone says what has always been said
That it’s lovely to know Mr. Eliot!
If he drinks rather much and his teeth are quite new
If he finds it, you know, rather painful to chew
If he speaks somewhat slower than he used to do
It is only because he’s deliberate!
And if he seems chilly, it’s maybe because he’s been celibate —
But they say for all that, it’s still terribly, terribly,
awfully, horribly, pleasant to know Mr. Eliot!
Since that first phone call
I’ve been somewhat confused, sure. But finally
things are back to normal, I think.
Anyway, I awoke this morning
then didn’t bother to get up.
The sun was shining anyway,
like always. So, I thought… after a while…
I just lay there for a while,
thinking about nothing in particular,
and not wondering why things weren’t really going anywhere.
I don’t care about progress, anyway,
it doesn’t interest me. Never has,
even though I’ve somehow lived to see my seventies anyway. You see?
You don’t really have to try.
And really, why get up, after all is said and done?
Well, said, anyway.
Although, one gets hungry
And the people at school aren’t really waiting for me to show up.
They already know where I am,
or suspect that I am
probably just lying in bed, or dead.