Thinking about Pound on Shattuck Avenue
is like genuflecting in hiking boots
a classic case of being overequipped.
If we live in a sea of insincerity, and they say,
how many additional drops
does it take to make a wave?
Forlorn as driftwood, The
ABC of Reading
sits untouched, swamped
by enough Chez Panisse
to give Neptune a heartburn.
At the brink of the frankly autobiographical
one hesitates. Can one live with grace
in such a place? Is escape possible?
were my thoughts of the day
So what else is new ...
A clerk looked my way.
Art in our time is a toy of the middle
class, I said, squirming in
my bike pants in the pasta maker
bookshop. Gourmets fidgeted
all around me, eyes glued
to the pages of the Rilke cookbooks.
Under the effete weight
the hardwood floors contracted.
Death came very near.
It is really all around us,
a pang of dissonance hidden
in the surreptitious music of the cash register,
in the timid squeak of earth shoes,
behind the piped Sibelius--
pitched much too low for dogs to hear,
the melody of the death
of culture. The poets are dead.
Ezra floated home on a boat
just in time.
From "Disordered Ideas" by Tom Clark (Black Sparrow Press: $17.95, cloth, $9, paper; 205 pp.). Born in Chicago in 1941, Clark served for 10 years as poetry editor of The Paris Review, of which he remains an advisory editor. He has published numerous volumes of poetry, including "Air" (1969), "Stones" (1970), "When Things Get Tough on Easy Street" (1978) and "Paradise Resisted" (1984) (Black Sparrow). He has written biographies of Ted Berrigan, Damon Runyan and Jack Kerouac. Clark is also the author of a recently published novel, "The Exile of Celine" (Random House).