The Patronizing Patronage Of Alfred Prufrock

I have pinpointed the precise problem
with the poetry of
TS Eliot
and it is in his lack of confidence,
which is to say, his ego, his
proportion,
for he overcompensates his
Americanness
with self-aware learning,
bastardizing natural
talent
with stilted posturing to impress,
like a painting by
da Vinci
framed in a gaudy gold neon lit
toilet
ready to ironically flush itself down.
Being a poet primarily of
English
he was an Anglophile,
as are most,
and being dissatisfied with his
Missouri roots
he lopped off his dandelion head
so the fragmentary seeds could drift
across the salty Atlantic
and settle on the isle of Albion
where he would renounce America’s
rough-spun Plebeian quilt
for a Patrician’s patronizing banner.
It was his lack of confidence
that spurred him toward his
adoptive homeland,
seeking Anglican angels
to sing him to sweet surrender,
trading a mongrel empire on the rise
for a purebred, dying one.
He was a
Hipster gigolo
fucking an old aristocratic socialite
beyond her prime,
yet still proud enough to taunt his
flaccid inferiority complex
as he withdrew from her primly preened
hedges,
all the while ejaculating profuse
apologies.
And for what?
A wasteland of would-be
conviviality
between himself and his
tea-teetotaling, modernist pubmates,
all of them condescending
and yet Eliot being so smart
as he admittedly was
being also self-aware enough
to know he was a joke to them,
a novelty from
Missouri
(Misery?)
and desperately seeking approval
due to his colonized mind.
But he was never really accepted
for going Native.
Woolf conflated him as
alien to her as an
Australian
for all the difference it made
while riding her waves of
hyper-association.
And I pity him,
truly,
for he never loved himself,
not really,
as he sought acceptance on
foreign shores
like Boudica if she had
betrayed herself
for the sake of Britannia.
He applied a stress-test
to fracture poetry to many facets
only to be fractured
himself.
Like any true-born English intellectual
he preferred the language of
French,
or the pretense of it, anyway,
but failed to be
embarrassed of his own
Britishness, too busy being embarrassed
by his Americanness.
If not for Academics
equally insecure as Eliot himself
and thus seeking a sense of worth
in a world indignant and derisive
toward their pretenses…
if not for Academics
entombed in their ivory towers
and peeking through ivy curtains
to scoff at the Plebeians down below…
If not for Academics
peddling codas and ciphers
for his esoteric babble
then Eliot would never have been
but a scornful footnote, at best,
in the annals of Poetry.
See here how I kick his
corpus
and yet it remains aloof and insular and
masturbatory and cryptic?
This is the best poetry the
modernist
could muster,
and would have been better
with his newfound silence,
or at least that is what this
simple Kentucky boy
tends to think
after having attempted once
to cut his own roots
and drift to far shores.

The Three Torments Of A Writer

Premature Burial
Sometimes when I am writing
I pause,
I doubt,
I fear that I am
nothing more than a
premature burial
scratching his vain thoughts
on the lid of a
coffin
already buried deep down
in the deafening earth
where no one will ever
read them.

Pillory
When I commit to an act
with several acts of writing,
I know not what judgments
will befall them—
if they will be taken
to the town square
and elevated on a
podium
while all sing their praises
or if they will be dragged
in impatient contumely
and strapped to a pillory
while all ready
their fistfuls of
rotten tomatoes.

Guillotine
Were I able to ascend
enthroned in my triumph,
of the written word,
would I be merely the
mark
of some career assassin
with a deft, duplicitous dagger
or would the more outlandish feat
be to turn opinion against my
temporary fame, infamy
transforming throne to
guillotine
as my moment passes
and I can no longer
make headway within the
fickle domain
of public opinion?

Artistic Scensibility

The flowers in the vase
and the flowers in the fields:
education just because
and education for what it yields.
Some are grown for beauty
and to decorate a home;
some are grown in duty
to lure bees as they roam.
Whether born to grow wild
or cultivated to bloom,
both can be compiled
and pressed into a perfume,
yet not all are so equal
when tinging with fragrance,
and some will make you ill
if too heady with their scents,
and so you must take care
to know the great difference
when you disturb the air
while making your “sense”.

Pre-Mortem Autopsy

Coroner, just staple it to my faint forehead,
the cause of death; and tag my twitching toe
before you put me with the legion John Doe dead—
beneath this morgue’s cold, clinical glow.

Coroner, I do believe you will soon find
that my skin is quite thin when you cut in,
for I’ve a soft-cover for both body and mind,
never having a hard-cover, though a shut-in.

Coroner, when you split me open, look to see
the heart that beat so hard as I composed
what my brain fain thought to be poetry;
that heart still beating— open, but also closed.

See how my heart quickens, hastening to pace
as the scalpel ascends, my soul laid so bare,
and look at the agony on my febrile face—
the pain of seeing how you do not care.

Never had I thought to go under the knife
while yet living, Coroner, and all those times I tried
to make for myself a literary life
are now lost among the others that have died.

No numbing agent, and no rigor mortis—
I can feel with every nerve, though I lay inert
upon this operation table, a corpus
awaiting the body bag and then the dirt.

And do not hold back the medical school
whose students seek to become as staff—
let them observe the dissection of a fool;
perhaps one should like an autograph.

Wait, are we to needle and thread already?
Careful as you stitch! Do not twist or jerk!
The spotlight fades and I am feeling quite heady—
Watch out! Have a care! This is my body of work!