An Amerikan Trilogy

By | 24 September 2002

Look away, look away, look away Dixieland.
-Elvis Presley

(i) Ode to Saphenus Ligation

Everyone in An Anthology of New York Poets
(Circa 1970) is ugly 70s vinyl ugly.
Ted Berrigan. Dick Gallup. Tom Veitch.
Bill Berksen spruces up the best, but even
his roguish good looks are unheard of in Oz;
land of paper tigers & the Emerald City scene
(Anna & Frank already four years dead).
A proskynesis of cool urban poetry
& O'Hara the Persian Alexander,
embraced this new Imperial role.
But after his death under Speedbuggy's
axiom of popular culture or some other
Amerikan big block cult irony,
this most influential of empires split & Oz
went to find our own vernacular wizard.
The Literary Enforcement Agency
(LEA) Frank propped up, collapsed
under the weight of his mythopoeic feet
& besides in the entire anthology,
theres only one female Big Apple poet.
At least Bernadette Mayer's work
stands up to the test of time;
the Munchkin's critical response.
(ii) ANZUS

& Oz, Amerika's odd little sibling
(so Malcolm in the Middle paranoid)
whinges whenever we lose to our big
brother & flips the level playing field over.
It takes about thirty years for ideas,
art, phobias, treaties & other signs
of degeneration to filter through
to Emerald Citys small 'k' kulcha;
& if it's from Europe even longer.
What we've done in Oz is sift through
the Western World's best urban legends
& appropriated all the razorblade in gum
slippery-dip superstitions.

Demonised everything that doesn't
wear a stars 'n stripes flak jacket
& watered down Reality TV's unreality.
The only Frank the populace of Oz
remembers is the Blue Velvet version
Lynch's amyl nitrate sniffing psycho;
a small town metamorphosis of perversion
buried too under Emerald City's brick veneer.
Oz had a good dose of 1950s/God Save
the Queen (she's not a human being!)
/ball-breaking bakelite social mores
but you, O brother sent us The Duke
himself whistlestopping across the East
Coast of Oz in 42, riding to our rescue,
opening literary saloon doors with his
emasculating toy six-shooters, a pale
rider imitation of the 88s that tore
Stalingrad a new winter arsehole.

& we're all on a hospital list now
waiting for our veins to be stripped
the saphenus ligation of Oz literature,
even though there's not quite as much
pill-popping in Emerald City these days
& even fewer Puerto Rican girls.
& why O my brother, do kids in Oz
still read To Kill A Mockingbird
in high school; stifle a yawn.
Your Boo Radley lung clot
cultural tradition; a death
sure as express-post anthrax.
Give us a break, Amerika,
& remember, don't open
those suspicious emails
in your Godhead.

(iii) Apokalypse Now

Amerika, it's not just
'Death from Above' anymore
but death from underneath too,
(Una Bomber, Tim McVeigh etc.)
painted there just below
Kilgore's Iroquois windshield;
the crossed swords air-cavalry
symbol looking more like an X
as in ecstasy the love drug.

Make Love Not War someone
whimpered from 50 metres
beneath the Nevada desert.
Amerika, haven't you got it yet
or are you still ruled imperiously
by that other reactionary credo;
Duck & Cover?
That worked a treat.

So many Death Stars to construct
& so little time. The only Emperor
is the Emperor of Ice-cream, right?
Einstein jotted Roosevelt a quick memo,
but he died before he could read it.
Amerika, they still call you Trinity, don't they?
Besides the Emperor would've been freaked
out with just a demonstration & surrendered
anyway, but as Capt. Willard says,
I needed a mission & for my sins
they gave me one.

(iv) Poet in New York

Lorca went to Amerika
& it polluted his soul.
(Oh, sorry mate comes the apology
from a fellow Oztralian as he
crushes some poetical feet).
Lorca should have come to Oz, instead.
Then 'Poet in New York' wouldn't
have been so scary because it would
have been called Poet in Emerald City.
Nothing too heavy, just poems about
the sun, surf, golden beaches & bikini clad
meter maids saving motorists from the real
axis of evil council parking inspectors.
At least Lorca didn't grow a beard
or appear in any poetry anthologies
where they fuck elm trees.
(v) Why We're Mad at You, Amerika

& besides, we're only mad at you
Amerika because one of your famous
New York school of poets told our local hero,
John Forbes to Fuck off in the 80s.
Dunno, it might've been Dick or Ted
or Bill or Bernadette, but it was
definitely some intertextual power
play of Frank's from beyond
the remaindered bin.

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