ISSUE 3: WINTER 2016 / POETRY

“Abstract”

BY JAMES VALVIS

As Guest Editor, I wrote him and said sorry,
I didn’t care for his abstract poems
that were merely words arranged in columns,
but if he wanted to send some that made sense
and spoke to the human condition,
rather than these word games,
I would give them serious consideration.

Mainly, I just wanted to see
if he could write a poem
that wasn’t postmodern gibberish.
I’d never yet seen one by him,
all his poems indecipherable garbage,
the kind of stuff you feel stupid reading,
not because the author is so brilliant
but because you wasted your time
when you could have been sleeping
or watching Monday Night Football.

He wrote back and said the regular editor
always took whatever poems he sent,
so he didn’t know what my problem was.
And did I know how many awards he’d won?
And did I know how advanced were his degrees?
And did I read any avant-garde poetry?
And did I think everyone needed to be Bukowski?
And did my mother like the smell of her own farts?
And was I a closeted homosexual?
And did I eat shit straight out of a cat litter box?
And was I even a college graduate?
And when was the last time I read Charles Olson?
And had I even heard of Charles Olson?
And then some stuff about the Black Mountain poets.
And did I ever teach at a top university?
And did I finger myself regularly?
And when was the last time I had sex with a horse?
And was I friends with Richard Kostelanetz?
And did the regular editor know I was insulting the talent?
And what would he think about my insolence?
And what had I ever written that was good?
And was I a Republican warmonger?
And did I really think he would send more stuff to me?
And would I kindly kiss his ass?

Frankly, it was his best work ever…

But I still rejected it.

James Valvis has placed poems or stories in Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Ploughshares, River Styx, The Sun, Tar River Poetry, and many others. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle.

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