“Prodigy whiz kid”
I still like to think, before the jury
returns, turning thirty, that I’m brilliant,
just undiscovered; all the more so while I write
undercover, my verse a Morse code announcing anonymous
clicks and clacks on keyboard tricks whether right
or wrong I can’t decide which tracks, cause the train’s left the station
like my child bride down the aisle with the wrong guy
again. But I’m beginning to have my doubts.
For one, no one knows me. Yet who gave Van Gogh
shouts out? Nobody. Shouts at, for sure. Shot at, at least once.
Otherwise just some Dutch schmuck with a slip of ear for cheer and fair trade.
And tell me who made a toast to or sprechen sie’d Kafka
in Prague or a penal colony pre or post fin de siècle?
Not even God or Brod, his editors both, obeyed
his wishes; before and then after death was Herr K betrayed.
And how unsung was the throng of Nick Drake songs
for which there was no serenade or requiem for whom fame crooned?
At 26 he OD’d on amitriptyline with five leaves left on his pink moon.
So maybe I’ve still got time in spades, dividends as yet paid
on my latent greatness. That’d be great, ‘cause I got bills to pay
and pills to take, burning CDs for friends to make, and scones
for an office work party to bake. “And miles to go before I sleep?” Please!
I don’t even know what that means – and I lived in frosty New England.
But now that I said bake,
may we fill a bowl and at least get high – ‘cause I might as well come clean:
I forget what I meant when this thing commenced. Oh, right – my brilliance
as yet licensed by the sires of literary lions like zookeepers. Well, I might as well
be a hunger artist brooding the right food, emaciated as I pace the cage
like a panther with no answer. No one reads my words in times of need,
heeds my versed advice when at a crossroads is our nation; lest I forget,
the train has left the station. Ah, yes. But I bust my ass day after
day for hours at a time like some dumb blind burro
with worse burst than a piñata,
and still my eyes might as well be blind (though, Lord knows, not like Milton),
‘cause still I ain’t got nada but doggerel rhymes like doves and love un-wassailed.
But after a cup of noodles Raman a fleuve, and come home from
a short shift at Target or Starbucks, Wal-Mart or Walgreen’s, I check my email,
then stare at a computer screen blank and bored outta my mind.
See, the problem is
I’ve been listening to Esperanza Spalding, y’dig?
And saw her at Obama’s gig
accepting that noble prize I myself don’t got hope I’ll ever win.
Damn, it’d be so easy if I were a prodigy, sweat prose from my pores,
lines from my loins; famous I’d be at the age of 20. Did you see him at the museum?
they’d say of me, or download his latest mp3; his last blog read or see him interviewed
on late night TV? Neither young nor beautiful, but full of pulchritudinous shit,
a blivet of rationales and excuses – did he win the MacArthur Award,
y’know, the genus grant [sic]? Him, no! Comes from a family of specious
philistines. No shoulders did he stand on, heads above the rest? No genes
did he inherit, first-rate or second best? Two blue collar progenitors,
neither heaven sent. But still he goes on uselessly – he must, he can’t, he will!
Maybe they’ll name a library, after life’s fleeced him from robbery,
his name engraved, so now we’ll say
along with chorus media,
cliff’s note we quote and cite from Wikipedia:
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