Friday, February 18, 2011

It is a great treat to be able to study something I love in college. I fully believe that the authors and books that will be canonized are those that span the academic and reading worlds: those read on the summer beach and in the classrooms, those on top of the NYT Bestsellers and the stack of Books in the University bookstore. Most books are one or the other. Aside from teaching, my best collegiate experiences have been with studying things I already liked.


Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of those experiences for me. I have, since first reading it, consistently placed it near the first books thought of when the word “favorite” or “best” comes into play. This semester, my final in college, I finally read Frankenstein again, and this time in a classroom. Needless to say, I am enjoying it immensely.


However, an interesting thing happened the other day. Creed and I agreed that Frankenstein was one of the greatest novels ever written in the English Language. Creed. The man who disagrees with everything I say. Among other aspects, I love him dearly for that. Whenever Creed is around, there is never a dull conversation: he and I disagree regularly. But we agreed. Not only on something literary, but something specific. So let the waters rise.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A Poetic Fight

While the Brotherhood of Tobacco Poetry has variously succeeded and not succeeded at our aim, a Poetic Fight broke out on January 29th that deserves some recognition. Out of the blue, Creed posted this, directly attacking Gunn, as a preface to his second Tobacco Poem:

'Twas yestermonth in yesteryear my last poem was wrote:
A rhymeless Dodectuplet of tobacco-praising note.
'Twas amply criticized for use of vapid Fragrant words;
And so indeed I promised to heed this warning that I heard.

But then upon a further discourse in this blag's concerne
It was foretold to me that I would not to here return:
That I was an infrequent blagger, nary wise to trust.
Henceforth I held to post on here again to be a must.

This prophecy of slackery to-wards my poet's Muse
The Fates have chosen to reverse as an ironic ruse.
This one who did accuse my Muse of slothful disposition
May yet one day eat up his words in somberest contrition.

That aspiring apprentice of an Oracle prophesied thus to me:
That my recognized status as a contributor was but illusory.
And yet while I unto this blag present this humble song
That voice of Fate's attempts to compete seem to be prolonged.

No sonnet has he spun to woo a lady's tender heart,
No epic has he sung to show his mem'ry to be smart.
Not e'en a short haiku has he yet posted on this blag-
A three-line paean to his pipe through January's fog.

O pagan Fates! Why do ye stay the writing hand of prophecy?
For what do you bless me instead? By what obscure philosophy?
That very fellow who informed me I would ne'er write another thing
Feels very mellow apathy himself towards the task of hence writing.

Is this a feat of Hercules, of such magnitude and strain
To mire him down from writing his poem with pangs and endless pain?
Or did he here consider Anon. Jr.'s poem to suffice
Despite his obligation, every month to post here once or twice?

Or does he aim to end this month by quibbling quips to humor us?
To grace this blag with noble quotes from Alexandre Dumas?
Shall therefore we consider him to not be posting frequent?
Negatory, I suppose; the reason for this is sequent:


+

The next day, the stung Gunn replied:

A man of ideas, stands for oration,
Constitutional law is his vocation.
His rebelling wrong, the battle un-won,
Power comes from the barrel of a Gunn


+

Creed came back with this masterful example:

"Might makes right!" he fiercely cries, with rhetoric and quoting,
"The Constitution wields no gun- so therefore it is nothing!"
"Republic is Rebelliousness"- this thought he's oft promoting,
And afterwards goes to the polls to take his part in voting.


+

Gunn then took the time yesterday to reply again:

The gentleman saith, "How can you speak thus?
We and our powers have a communal trust."
The powers that be will ignore this man,
And snuff him out, the best they can.

He pushes against the wind, soon forgetting the trust,
Obey the gentleman's system, the governors shall regard.
Abiding by this, the conspirator says we must,
For this is his law unchanged: Obey until life gets hard.


+

It seemed Creed already had a response at the ready:

'Twas God ordained Authorities, of all shapes, over men,
Ordaining o'er America the sovereign Constitution.
"This law is illegitimate!" the Monarchist doth stammer-
"MY only law is law of might, of shotgun and steel hammer!"

In order to save countless helpless fools lost in deception,
He mocks the Constitution with his brilliant new perception;
That great enlightened Monarchist gives us a wise perspective:
"It is the will of God for us to follow this directive:

Against what certain is God-given power, our Rule of Law-
Rebel! For thus God wills it ever, fore and even now!
Let government throw off all limits, let the nation tremble-
And him opposing this rebellion is the real rebel!"

"Obey the laws, obey them all!" is what he recommends-
And when unto the nation's throne he mightily ascends:
"No law shall bind me, though I've sworn an oath to law uphold!"
And soon, corrupted by such pow'r, he takes a tyrant's mold.


+

For my part, I think Creed has a huge talent for Satiric poetry and sincerely hope that Gunn, as only a true friend could, keeps egging him on. I've enjoyed the trip so far and hope it lasts forever.

+

UPDATE:At 12:03AM, a sleep-deprived Gunn posted this, his best effort to date by far:

The Citizen Who Thought He Was King

You may shout of ideal rights,
With police enforcement here to grow.
But have you seen a riot call fights,
They all are heathens who are born so low.
You may say you have solemn thoughts,
Creating a witness thereto fore.
When all the others are casting lots,
Of who next in power you shall abhor.
You are rippin', rollin', rantin' now,
When the masters breached their vow.
By the time your rebellion affects the mind,
A wicked soul you'll regrettably find.

Larger governments will have their poor ways,
Thus ensuing a loss of wits
But is this reason enough to say,
Licensed tantrums and kicking fits.
"The vow! The vow!", you'll cry and moan,
"Their justice shall be served!"
Though justice applies to you alone,
Your sentence made unnerved.
You are cringing, crying, crowing now,
As the masters amended the vow.
While I lay low and enjoy the attack,
Content with the smarts my leaders do lack.


+
Creed responded with another gem. Can this man write a poor satiric poem? I think not.

Behold! On new adventures doth our Hero swift embark.
To sail the seven seas, or maybe just to stroll the park?
His myriad crushing arguments, for Might-makes-Right's True Cause
In former times serv'd as his cymbals, clashing without pause.

But now, he chooses a new task, a most amusing chore:
He gives his challenge, whipping up a witty Poet's War.
Perhaps he entertains certain fresh subjects for this duel?
Indeed! For his old arguments, this duel's his brand-new tool!

And thus he hurls his javelins, his Monarchistic jabs!
Twice swinging at the Constitution, stumbling as he stabs,
While throngs of weeping flatterers adore his rival's verse,
Each begging on their knees "Mock Me! O! Mock me too!" 'til hoarse.

A third blow, now, the Monarchist brings down with vicious clamor,
And those around him tremble at this stroke's resounding tremor.
These new-spun stanzas show his creativity; his best!
He rhymes with eloquence, then writes it oth'rwise like the rest.

In Riotous effort to advance his point through rants and wits
In Tantrum urges 'gainst his foe, t'abstain from "Kicking Fits".
He who would freely break the Constitution for some cause
Accuses his vile rival of now posing 'bove the laws.

How public, bravely, fiercely, does he give his foe hortation
To "Lay Low and Enjoy" it all when evil chokes our Nation.
If only he'd believe in freedom- Paragon he'd be:
He puts such pain and effort toward the cause of Apathy.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Location Hunting

“His arms are like, huge. Their muscle.”
“What are you talking about? Whose arms?”
“That cop's man. That one right over there.”
“That's no cop.”
“Rent-a-cop then.”
“No, that's a bouncer. See that door behind him?”
“But what's he doing here?”
“He's bouncing, I don't know.”
“Is there a club there?”
“Where there's smoke, genius.”
“Yeah but maybe he is a fake bouncer, you know? Like a dude posted up outside a building with nothing inside, just standing there to prank people.”
“What are you thinking for, ape? Take pictures.”
“I'm just sayin', maybe he isn't legitimate.”
“Legitimate? Man, I tell you, muscles like that, he makes his own legit. Thought the Army would've taught you that.”
“I was telling you, the muscles man. Now you agree.”
“I know, I know. I just now got a good look at them though.”
“Hey, hey hey, check it out. There is a group of people coming up the street.”
“Good. Now we can put down this crackpot theory of yours.”
“I'm just saying it is possible.”
“You don't even know what it is that you are saying.”
“Hey, watch.”
“I'm watching, I'm watching. And I'm watching six people walk through a door and some lights flashing inside. Colored lights. Like at a club.”
“I got it. So it's probably a club. But it could've been a fake club.”
“A fake club?”
“Yeah.”
“Man, that's a stretch. We are getting out of here.”
“Hey, can I pick the radio station?”
“Sure.”
“Some people say a man is made outta mud, a poor man's made outta muscle and blood.”
“Oh man, I love this song.”
“Muscle and blood and skin and bones, a mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong.”
“Could you turn it down a bit, I'm driving over here.”
“You load sixteen tons, what do you get?”
“How can you ask me to turn this down?”
“Another day older and deeper in debt.”
“This is a classic man. A classic American tune.”
“Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go.”
“Well that may be, but it's too loud for me driving.”
“I owe my soul to the company store.”
“Alright, alright, I'll turn it down.”
“I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine.”
“But let it be said there is a special place in hell—”
“I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine.”
“—for people who ask to turn down this song man.”
“I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal.”
“Really.”
“Yeah.”
“And the straw boss said 'Well, a-bless my soul.'”
“You think that God or whatever likes this particular song so much—”
“You load sixteen tons, what do you get?”
“—that he personally spent his valuable time designing a room in hell—”
“Another day older and deeper in debt.”
“—just for people like me? Who have friends who listen—”
“Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go.”
“—to music too loud while they are trying to do something.”
“I owe my soul to the company store.”
“God is outside of time man.”
“I was born one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain.”
“Well then how come he created it?”
“Fightin' and trouble are my middle name.”
“Created what? Time?”
“I was raised in the canebrake by an ol' mama lion.”
“Yeah. Why did he?”
“Cain't no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line.”
“Man, I do not want to get into this discussion with you right now man.”
“You load sixteen tons, what do you get?”
“Why not man? What's wrong—”
“Another day older and deeper in debt.”
“—with this discussion? You afraid—”
“Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go.”
“—of your spirituality? Turn that—”
“I owe my soul to the company store.”
“—down because right now I am driving. I'm trying—”
“If you see me comin', better step aside.”
“—to keep our sorry asses out of oncoming traffic.”
“A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died.”
“Okay, okay. I get it.”
“One fist of iron, the other of steel, if the right one don't a-get you then the left one will. You load sixteen tons, what do you get?”
“You know what has always struck me funny about the radio?”
“Another day older and deeper in debt.”
“No, what?”
“Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go.”
“That's a dead man singing.”
“I owe my soul to the company store.”
“So what?”
“So that is a dead man singing and neither of us find it odd. This is an invention that is new within the last hundred, hundred-fifty years and nobody even bats an eye while we roll around on tyres made from trees, in carriages made from metals that were designed to protect people in space, at speeds that ancient people only got to when they were about to die, and all of it to the accompanying tones of one Tenessee Ernie Ford. A dead man. A man who has been dead for years. But you can sit over there and get all excited—”
“Make the world go away.”
“—today, years after this showboat has been buried—”
“And get it off my shoulders.”
“—as his skull is being cleaned out by worms—”
“Say the things you used to say.”
“—we can sit here and listen to a man singing—”
“And make the world go away.”
“—from literally beyond the grave.”
“Do you remember when you loved me?”
“I'm saying that is weird. That—”
“Before the world took me astray.”
“—is seriously strange. Not some stupid bouncer.”
“If you do then forgive me.”
“But maybe he wasn't a bouncer.”
“And make the world go away.”
“Get off that bouncer man.”
“I'm sorry if I hurt you.”
“I'm just saying.”
“I'll make it up, day by day.”
“Stop talking now. I'm listening to dead men.”
“Just say you love me like you used to, and make the world go away. Just say you love me like you used to, and make the world go away.”

+++

Apologies to William Gibson.