Saturday, October 15, 2011

Three incoherent poems to be read at Occupy St. Louis

Kristin Sharp does a lot of good work organizing and promoting performance poetry in St. Louis. I see that she is organizing poets for tomorrow (Sunday, October 16) at Occupy St. Louis in Kiener Plaza. At that time I will be managing an aspiring child actor with a non-profit gig, but I wanted to post a few of my poems and invite Kristin or anyone else to read one of them there.



We came out of the mud, out
of the dark, out of the heat. Here today, I
empower you to screw up
something (I’ll give you the real answer, later).
Take an overweight person
eating chicken-fried steak, smoking cigarettes,
It makes a lot of sense, yeah,

for Alaska. The monkey in the middle.
Fly in low, the ambulance
outside your door (if you even have access
to ambulance services).
That’s a lot of dead people. Money came here.
In Mexico, I’m sure, there are seminars
going on, right now, asking
what happened to all the jobs they "stole" from the
American South. We are
all, always, on deadline, not Acme Widgets.

-- Chris King



The apple is the sweetest,
the closest to the core. The sweetest and most
difficult to eat. Guilt is
a Calvinist virus that makes your cue ball
incident look like punk stuff,
soul insurance, Boddishatva of the porn,
a store called Experience.

The people who bid this shit up never have
put anything on the line
because they don’t even know where the line is.
Throw their money around like
a cudgel. It’s not an indictment, I’m just
talking about what’s really
going on, with my twin pistol butts showing.
It’s just a poisoned Old World
predatorial system. Sneeze! Scat! (Devil!)
Dude, you can’t eat soul, yours or
mine. You’re falling far afield again tonight.

-- Chris King



For arrow poison, we boiled
gall down. The hair was plastered with clay a full
day, to impart gloss and keep it from splitting.
Now, the exterminating
influence of missions was discouraging,
sure, but courage, for us,
was really a curse. A is for Absence,
B is for Bayonet in
the Back of C, or Crazy Horse, D is for
Don’t You Speak Your Mother Tongue,
E is for Entrails Emptying Out Our Soul.

-- Chris King


These poems are cast in the 7/11 form innovated by St. Louis poet Quincy Troupe, which calls for alternating 7-syllable lines with 11-syllable lines. I add to that rule an attempt to alternate 7-line stanzas with 11-line stanzas, or at least to use only 7-line and 11-line stanzas.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, which includes Occupy St. Louis (as I understand it), has been criticized from the left for being incoherent. So I have chosen some poems that are indeed somewhat incoherent, yet all say something important (I'd like to think) if you are patient with complexity and polyvalence.

As for Occupy Wall Street, or what I have heard about the movement from the distance of a busy parent and working artist with a demanding day job, it reminds me of what I loved about the intentional community movement when I first encountered it. I really liked the communal approach to resources and the consensual approach to decision-making. It's my impression that these approaches have worked for the human being for many more centuries than the approaches concentrated on Wall Street. It always seems possible that the time will come when they will be widely practiced again, either out of choice or, more likely, grim necessity.


Image borrowed from Peter.

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