The Anxiety Of Influence
The history of fruitful poetic influence…is a history of anxiety and self-saving caricature of distortion, of perverse, willful revisionism without which modern poetry as such could not exist.
I will never write a novel entirely in verse.
I don’t have the skills of a Homer or Mason.
If I copy their form, it comes out coerced
With no life of its own… an abhorrent mutation!
And scanning the stresses just stresses me out.
I can’t follow these language contortionists.
That they are masters of their craft I have not a doubt.
And me? I was born a half-assed formalist.
Note: The “Mason” referred to in the poem above is David Mason, a poet laureate of Colorado, who published the brilliant verse novel, Ludlow, about the famous Ludlow Massacre.
The So-called “Dark Ages”
With the exception of the Inquisition
and a few wars over politics and religion,
the so-called “Dark Ages” were brighter
than most assume—shining a light
less dim than we might muster.
Of course, the Bubonic Plague
made reaching a ripe-old age
impossible for many to master.
But what generation hasn't had to suffer
a public health disaster?
Cast your eye calmly on the facts:
From the 9th to the 15th century
there existed many free communes
governed by guilds instead of bureaucrats.
Most peasants only labored 260 days a year,
spent their holidays at mystery plays, drinking beer
and spreading good cheer at all the church festivities.
It wasn't all lords and ladies of the manor back then.
In fact, a serf had his own turf to garden and to raise
livestock for the family table, a pig with apple glaze
on Easter Sunday. Back in the good ole’ days.
They were not enslaved to the cruelty of the clock,
moving to more seasonal rhythms,
making their own socks from lambs
grazing in the pastures of simplicity.
And everyone knew their neighbors:
The blacksmith and the baker,
the apothecary and the coffin-maker.
Such sublime domesticity!
I really wouldn't mind living back in that time,
as long as I could still have electricity.
Bio: Among other things, Daniel is the lead singer/lyricist for the indie rock band, Mining for Rain, and a member of the Colorado Poets Center. His full-length poetry collection, A Poet Playing Doctor, will be released in the fall of 2015 by Alabaster Leaves Publishing. To learn more, visit: http://about.me/dklawitter
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