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Syndic Literary Journal

Uses of Poetry

Narrated by Stanley H. Barkan

New York


What is the use of poetry these days 

What use is it What good is it 

these days and nights in the Age of Autogeddon 

in which poetry is what has been paved over 

to make a freeway for armies of the night

 as in that palm paradiso just north of Nicaragua 

where promises made in the plazas 

will be betrayed in the back country 

or in the so-green fields 

of the Concord Naval Weapons Station 

where armed trains run over green protesters 

where poetry is made important by its absence 

the absence of birds in a summer landscape 

the lack of love in a bed at midnight 

or lack of light at high noon in high places 

For even bad poetry has relevance 

for what it does not say 

for what it leaves out 

Yes what of the sun streaming down 

in the meshes of morning 

what of white nights and mouths of desire 

lips saying Lulu Lulu over and over 

and all things bom with wings that sing 

and far far cries upon a beach at nightfall 

and light that ever was on land and sea 

and caverns measured out by man 

where once the sacred rivers ran 

near cities by the sea 

through which we walk and wander absently 

astounded constantly 

by the mad spectacle of existence 

and all these talking animals on wheels 

heroes and heroines with a thousand eyes 

with bent hearts and hidden oversouls 

with no more myths to call their own 

constantly astounded as I am still 

by these bare-faced bipeds in clothes 

these stand-up tragedians 

pale idols in the night streets 

trance-dancers in the dust of the Last Waltz 

in this time of gridlock Autogeddon 

where the voice of the poet still sounds distantly 

the voice of the Fourth Person Singular 

the voice within the voice of the turtle 

the face behind the face of the race 

a book of light at night 

the very voice of life as Whitman heard it 

wild soft laughter 

(ah but to free it still 

from the word-processor of the mind!) 

And I am a reporter for a newspaper 

on another planet 

come to file a down-to-earth story 

of the What When Where How and Why 

of this Astounding life down here 

and of the strange clowns in control of it 

the curious clowns in control of it 

with hands upon the windowsills 

of dread demonic mills 

casting their own dark shadows 

into the earth’s great shadow 

in the end of time unseen 

in the supreme hashish of our dream 




Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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