Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The State Will Be Served, Even By Poets

painting by pablo picasso

the state will be served even by poets

the breasts of all the women crumpled
like gas bags when

neruda wrote his hymn celebrating the explosion
of a hydrogen bomb by soviet authorities

children died of the blisters of ignorance
for a century more when

siqueiros tried to assassinate trotsky
himself a killer with gun and ice

pound shimmering his incantations to adams benito
and kung prolonging the state
with great translation cut in crystal

claudel slaying tupĂ­ guaranĂ­ as he flourished
cultured documents and pearls in rio de janeiro
when he served france as ambassador to brazil

melville served by looking for contraband
as he worked in the customs house
how many taxes did he requite
how many pillars of the state did he cement
in place tell me tell me tell me stone

spenser serving the faerie queene
as a colonial secretary in ireland
sinking the irish back
for ten times forty years
no less under the beau monde’s brack

seneca served by advising nero on how to
strengthen the state with philosophy’s

aeschylus served slaying persians
at marathon and salamis

aristotle served as tutor putting visions
of trigonometrics in alexander’s head

dali and eliot served crowning monarchs
with their gold

wallace stevens served as insurance company
executive making poems out of profits

euclides da cunha served as army captain
baritoning troops

and even d h lawrence served
praising the unique potential of a king

these are the epics of western culture
these are the flutes of china and the east

everything must be rewritten then

goethe served as a member
of the weimar council
of state and condemned even to death
even to death

this is the saga of the state
which is served

even to death

Julian Beck

Posted over on Poems and Poetics

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