Monday, March 20, 2006

Worried E-Mails

"He pities the plumage but forgets the dying bird."
-Tom Paine

I've received a few anonymous e-mails from a person concerned about my criticisms of Bennington College and establishment poet Philip Lopate. The person informs me that Lopate is a nice guy and I shouldn't pick on him. The e-mailer also says that Bennington is a very nice place.

I'm sure it is!-- for the comfortable few who attend that private bastion of privilege. All is well in their bubble world-- except for begrimed outsiders daring to make noise!

The anonymous correspondent has the world turned on its head. (The world is crushing us down yet somehow we're able to pick on it.) Establishment lit, of which Lopate is fully part, has enclosed itself within a castle of exclusivity with raised drawbridge. They've cut off all roads into American literature except one-- the narrow path of subservience. There is no level playing field. (If there was they'd lose.)

Yet how distasteful they find those who raise their voices about this! Tea time in the plush faculty room-- several officially-endorsed "poets" secluded within become worried at stray sounds of contrary opinion outside their quiet world. "Are poets speaking aloud?" one thinks to ask, while parked in an enormous armchair. "Are they speaking about US?"

"Harumph!" another in the airless room responds, while turning yellow unreadable pages of the New York Review of Books. "How unfair. I truly must protest!"

He looks around bewildered-- he's unsure exactly who to protest TO. The kitchen staff at this exclusive club? No complaints there. Lunch was excellent. The doormen? Thoroughly accommodating as well. Voices outside the club grow louder. Who manages this facility, anyway? He doesn't even know.

The mandarin draws closer into his armchair and turns the blurry pages of his paper faster. The room feels suddenly cold. Only the sight of bustling waiters assures him of the security of this stony refuge.
"At the Pet Shop": A Poem

Four fake show-dog poet pets
Presented to you direct from the Establish-ment
Shinder, Lopate, Doty, and Moody

Watch as they pretend to be Beats
Shinder, Lopate, Doty, and Moody
though they know nothing 'bout the streets
Shinder, Lopate, Doty, and Moody

Phony howlers have answered the call
On stage April in Miller Hall
Careerist bureaucrats one and all
Shinder, Lopate, Doty, and Moody

1 comment:

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Bennington College....hmmm...sounds like a place where a guy like me would get arrested.