Is This What We Deserve

Karl Shapiro

Poetry is innocent, not wise.  It does not learn from experience because each poetic experience is unique.

Karl Shapiro

On Being Yanked From A Favorite Anthology

to Bob Wiggins

by Karl Shapiro (1913 – 2000)

Fame gave me a wrench and I cried Ouch!
That hurt!  who used to use a silky touch,
Called me illustrious, caressed my name,
Made me indispensable. Erato,
Patroness, who you fawned on me,
(Gave me the creeps sometimes) held me so high,
Incised me in the canon.  I was fixed,
Part of the permanent collection, brightest star
In my constallation of five.  Until
Some text-louse, pilpulistic Joycean cockroach,
Some antisemitic Jew reached for his rag
And zilched me out.  Bitch – goddess!
Is this what we deserve
Who put you on the American map, you whore!

I find the process of typing the poems in preparation for a blog post quite helpful in getting my head inside the poem in a way that is different from reading it.   I obviously select poems by reading them first, but the process of typing them up often reveals ideas that emerge more clearly as I experience the physical nature of a poem in the act of writing it that are different from reading it.  The reason is I desire that intimacy of being with the poet in that brief moment of creating the post, to literally feel what the poet felt in the act of writing,  knowing that countless edits probably occurred along the way, but at some point they wrote or typed it out in its current form.

Try it sometime if you have a poem that is bewitching you by being elusive in your understanding yet thought provoking in its murkiness.   Try writing it out and see if during that process of feeling what the poet felt in writing the words, do you find a new presence in your mind, whispering some unspoken truth that lies beneath the veneer of the voice in our minds when we read it.

It is said we each have three voices; the voice that we hear when speak out loud, that others hear, but we can not, the voice we speak out loud that we hear, but others can not and the silent voice that we hear when we read, a voice of our own creation, of our narrator who benevolently assists us with our understanding.  But maybe there is a fourth voice, the voice of writing that emerges from behind the veil, either from crafting our own story or in transcribing someone else’s.   How many voices of your own do you hear? Which one(s) do you answer to?


by Karl Shapiro

Lord, I have seen too much for one who sat
In quiet at his window’s luminous eye
And puzzled over house and street and sky,
Safe only in the narrowest habitat;
Who studies peace as if the world were flat,
The edge of nature linear and dry,
But faltered at each brilliant entity
Drawn like a prize from some magician’s hat.

Too suddenly this lightening is disclosed:
Lord, in a day the vacuum of Hell,
The mouth of blood, the ocean’s ragged jaw,
More than embittered Adam ever saw
When driven from Eden to the East to dwell,
The lust of godhead hideously exposed!

Published by

A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations. I am pleased to offer Fourteenlines as an ad and cookie free poetry resource, to allow the poetry to be presented on its own without distractions. Fourteenlines is a testament to the power of the written word, for anyone wanting a little more poetry in their life.

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