Fake Dream. May 27:

Bob Perelman

I was at Putney,
it was beautiful.

Reuben was graduating,
this was the end of my involvement.

Francie was on one side,
Chloe Deal on the other.

Do you need another woman in your twosome,
I'd volunteer.

Not consequential,
dream kept unrolling.

I went over to George Iffington with the tortoise shell glasses and plastic hair,
he mumbled.

He was full of literary talk,
did he know who I was?

Brecht would write a play,
then a novel.

Never stuck with anything,
that was his problem.

I leaned up close,
couldn't hear anything but class.

Then Robert Lowell drove into the diningroom in his stretch limo,
Iffington got in as Lowell ranted.

"Can you write better than Sid
Kunitz, Bob Berryman? That's the only

question it makes any sense to
stammer back to." He swerved sharply

to avoid a buffet table, but
didn't quite make it. A tailfin

pushed a tray of cold cuts
to the floor. "The answer is

you, manic, self-informed, self-deceased, performing for
also-dead papa, the deader the nearer,

hovering over the stage like a
lead eagle, eyes welded shut to

render judgement all the more final.
So you dance to that blindness,

type onto those stone pages, or
plead the elemental justice of your

case by sheer grammar, betrayed by
all these spreadeagled words. Or it's

poker, with all the candidates sitting
across from the doyennes dipping Freud

and spraying their orgasmic phlegm as
they deal the hands, which you

can hide, flaunt, or simply stare
at like it's the DNA of

your voice in the clouds thundering
behind a sunburst. But they hold

all the cards, really, upsidedown, face
out, a careless random public verdict.

The one they were already going
to take to bed is the

one they pick." Here he began
speeding a bit. "Who are you

to repocket your stake, what body
gets to tell the sun to

scoot back down to pre-dawn elevation,
restart the birdsong bullshit, redaub the

dew atop Monet's haycocks? If you
dislike those odds, long as a

loser's memory, then face backwards and
commence cringing. The missiles bristle like

red, white and blue thistles, or
I guess the Cold War's over.

My time grew short, fat, negative,
I died, right? and now I'm

overexposed, with secondary meanings crawling between
my one-time letters. Get a life,

then get it over with! Follow
me, you bad singularities, worse infinities!

If you want a career, die!"
The car nosed significantly into the

wall and he backed up, leaving
a smear of silver paint around

the edges of the splintered pine
boards. The left headlight was smashed.

"1946, 1966, 1986, the pricks stuck
a crown on a head that

was barely mine. The wavering ceilings
of home! And so I was

elected king of poetry and lived
ever after in the castle where

they manufacture awards without labor, far
down in the middle reaches. It's

all done by Santa's literary elves
with their mirrory pleasure-centers and delicate

feeding tubes, pressing the bar, spreading
the word, North Pole on south,

Satan's auratic face on the dust-covers.
Dust to dust for the industrious

poetry lovers. Intense microbes of culture
carbuncling the flat land that truly

gives no verbal shit beyond the
news. My native massacre! Home runs!

That's all I wanted to read.
I'm not boring you by any

chance, am I? Dead men's rants
are worse than any blood-sugar bloom,

suing the dictionary, stuck in traffic."
By now the diners were all

up and panicking, shouting, as he
zigzagged rapidly. He hipchecked one, who

flew off sideways, and then caught
another flush in the back, dragging

him under the left front wheel.
"I thought I'd have it made

in here: what a sucker. Minor
fame in hell with no one

to dust my bust. Mention me
outside, will you? You take the

wheel--it's cheating: that's how we
serve the rules and declare victory."

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