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The Day the World Ends: Poems Paperback – April 3, 2012
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We stand across the grassy hill, The fall line square to each. We could Chew on and on and on, until Apocalypse--whose ructions would But coax we sheep to lift and drop Our dainty little feet until The shifting underfoot should stop, And then we'd square around once more To crop the newly slanting hill.
Does wisdom fret at what's in store And boggle at what's gone before-- Or rather does it not, like us, Do what it must, and nothing more? And is there credo any know More sound than that--to just adjust, Adjust, adjust, adjust, adjust, And every trouble, worry, woe, Ignore, ignore, ignore, ignore?
I feel like maybe I'll Slap my own ass, drop and do Forty push-ups, Shit into my right hand, test it with a squeeze, Fling it out the window, Fuck the dog, Yapping along with him, maybe, Then snap the elastic waist of my undies around my head and Run naked down the street, Dick bobbing as I scream, "The big-eyed beans from Venus are coming-- And they're gonna make me president!" Yeah. I might Just Do it at that.
Uh-huh, I loved you once, it's true, And acted like the man that I Believed you'd be attracted by-- And I myself believed the lie. How hard, though, being someone new! If I'm not him, I guess we're through. I'm me again--it's sad, it's true.
I loved you once, and that's a fact. Was it a sin to try to make A better me for your love's sake? A dream we weave--but then we wake. Prince cramps me up; alas, I lack The limberness to not change back To frog again--and that's a fact.
What can I say, what can I do? It turns out I cannot be who We both can live with, me and you. The better me was not quite true; The truer me can't stand to stay; You wouldn't like him anyway. What can I do, what can I say?
I had a javelina but It hurried off one day, Perhaps to join my peccary Who'd also run away.
The boar I had I loved the more-- Until she too took flight; I hope my warthog willn't, with Her darling underbite.
It's true a wild pig will never Nuzzle you, or spread Molasses on your balls, or give You halfway decent head,
But then, its awkward ways only A pervert would resent, For in a schoolgirl's uniform Swine look so innocent.
And so your heart is broken each Time one abandons you And scampers off with snuffs and snorts, Cape flapping, cap askew.
When My Marbles Have Left Me Will You Have?
When my marbles have left me will you have? When I drool a bit, doze, and come to, have Some more tea, and then mumble Of pee as I fumble At pants about which I no clue have,
Will you check that the pot's not still on? Will you show me the way to the john? Will you unlock the door If I bay in there--or, When my marbles have left me will you have?
She was a big woman-- Big-boned; not fat. I Saw her in a restaurant. Why should I be ashamed Of the physical acts I Wanted to enlist her in? I am not ashamed! No one would be hurt, you fuckers (Unless one of us pulled a muscle, Which is not what I mean)! Who would we be harming? Why not approach her and describe those acts, And inquire as to her interest? Why do we live in such a goddamned repressive society? Why can men not run naked and free While women recline in the glory of their bodies, Licking themselves, like cats?
Why people said of me I was Ass-upward Is more than I can see, because, Ass-upward, Could any man approach the heights That I did, Glory in my sights, And--okay, I fell once or twice Ass-upward.
Of course my charms would be obscure Ass-upward, But should that earn the nickname Sir Ass-Upward? I spoke not but I knew thereof, Knelt not but to the Lord above, And never did receive male love Ass-upward.
I swam in Hippocrene clear Ass-upward, And did love you, at least, my dear, Ass-upward. Recall me, therefore, facing thee; Preserve my ringing poetry; Forget me not, nor bury me Ass-upward!
Night, Then Day
It all takes on a Yellow cast When sleep won't come. I read until My eyes at least want rest, and kill The light at last.
The bedroom plunges Out of sight, Then slowly reemerges, fit With silver outlines given it By waiting night.
At length the silver Turns to gray, And clothes and chair on which they lie Are issued back their colors by Returning day.
I watch the night thus Stretch and touch The day. The meaning of the show Is hard to read. There is one, though-- I know this much.
The Day the World Ends
The day the world ends There will be the sound of a long, whining fart And everyone on the street will stop And look at each other as if to say What The hell is that --Til the sound is cut short by A thunderclap So loud that, Ears ringing, People will stagger about as if drunk, Hands clapped to heads, Eyes slit, mouths O-shaped. And then the vibrating will start--but not last long, because POOM! an outward blast will splinter the concrete And shoot everyone into the air like champagne corks. And the g's that suck at their bodies Will tick down as they reach the apex Where for one moment they will float, Looking gravely at each other, Before starting back towards earth-- Which, Sad to say, Shall no longer be there.
And they will fall and fall and fall With nothing to stop them, Accelerating, Faster and faster, Until they burst into shrieking flame,
And then finally, And forever, Their ashes will dither and swirl In the dusk of eternal nothingness.
When this happens --And it will-- Don't be saying, "Oh! Oh, wait--can I have a second? Nobody warned me!" Try it. They'll shake this poem in your face and say, "Remember this? Remember this, jackoff?"
When their pug began humping his leg Uncle Vern shook his head at Aunt Peg: "Can't deny that I've snuck Her the odd little fuck, But we can't have her starting to beg."
Angry abbess, dull town boy: "Suppose You explain yourself--and Sister Rose!" "Sorry, ma'am--is this wrong? All the nuns all along Have been telling me that's where this goes."
O, numbed age! Is there now no more room in Passion's hothouse for perverts to bloom in? Any thing you can name Has been fucked; it's a shame, But you might as well diddle a human.
Mad, the roomers nearby didn't doubt, Since the bansheelike way she would shout And her fox-hunting calls And horse snorts like Huntz Hall's Drowned the drone of her vibrator out.
The don Edmund FitzGibbons-Chase-Lauring Would declaim odes of Horace while whoring For his wife had once said, "Hearing georgics in bed I find just unbelievably boring."
Then he switched to Greek epics instead. He Had himself much preferred the more heady Latin odes, but a bawd One day snapped, "Oh, good God! Will you stop with the lyrics already!"
The new form, like the previous one, Failed to find any favor among Who as servants of Venus Could stand a slumped penis But couldn't abide a dead tongue.
Shun the orotund and the arcane Then, with wife, or with demi-mondaine. Though it seems that they would, Antique words do no good When the ancientest act is your aim.
Any languors that Larry befell he Quaffed at kangaroo piss to dispel; he Then got hopping so fast His balls hammered his ass And rebounded to bang on his belly.
Captain angry at world. Overblown, Long, digressive, uneven in tone. Whose dick title denotes Is obscure, though one notes Captain's "peg leg" so-called is "whalebone."
Deft rebuff: "Yes, it is a loud bar; My place also, though, isn't too far, And I keep massage oils That don't sting my burst boils By my last boyfriend's balls in a jar."
After year after year after year Of seclusion the sage cried, "It's clear! Yea, all Spirit is just An expression of lust-- And all Matter should wear a brassiere!"
Who can muster a grip with her snatch Must have mates who perform with dispatch Because any who linger Numb dick, tongue or finger And then must start over from scratch.
Old O'Sheen was appalled to awake To discover the nocturnal brake On his kidneys and bowel Had thrown in the towel To leave him with what those things make.
On Oahu a drunkard named Duke Who'd resolved to stop squandering puke Ate the chunkier things That were strained by the strings When he vomited into his uke.
Stone-age man, thawed from glacier, aghast: "Was some snowman in my recent past? And if so, who fucked who? My dick's numb and quite blue And there's freezer burn all up my ass."
Gavin, given some quivering curds, Offered grace of a sort in these words: "Be thou praised and adored For thy bounty, O Lord-- Not for these mucilaginous turds."
Western Lit 101 will review Basic ways the Great Authors would screw. Those may learn who so choose Who ate pussy, and whose, Next semester in Lit 102.
"Do think twice about sex," they said, "when You're so young"--so we had sex again, Thinking, Take the thing's measure: It always yields pleasure, And progeny just now and then.
Though his charm, stoked with lust, could burn bright, Consummation would snuff it, and flight Followed lovemaking--or He'd roll over and snore; He'd light out, or go out like a light.
This indifference following sex Would eventually come to vex His betrothed--and assorted Young ladies in port, and A lot of the guys belowdecks.
When a bad reputation began To thin prospects, on sea and on land, He fell into a funk, Then emerged as a monk With his genitals firmly in hand.
The seclusion's now serving him well, With the urges he still can't quite quell Causing no more distress Since his hand could care less If he snores after sex in his cell.
During vigorous love she would bray, "Do it, Big Boy!" or, "God! Yes--that way!" "Right in there!" "Right in here!" --Or else, "Very nice, dear," When her husband was in for the day.
You may not think to look at her Liz Performs miracles, but the fact is She's laid prostrate more men With her ass even than Samson did with the jawbone of his.
"Set on Low, madame, for whipping cream; Bread dough, High; or for simply a dream Of an apres-dessert, Lift your skirt and insert It and dial it up to Extreme."
Of the convent's a hundred nine nuns Those eight only did not get the runs Whose insides could congeal The adventuresome veal That eluded the hundred and one's.
Divine worship in public is bad, Pat, a Pietist, said--and she'd add That she cherished the prayers Of the men who mouthed theirs In the privatest place that she had.*
*Footnote: cf. the rebbitzen who Made the case that since nobody knew Of a scriptural bar, She could place the shofar In her person while somebody blew;
Or the chacham of Chelmnitz, who'd do Some recondite things after he grew To find intercourse blah-- E.g., have the sh'ma Done in sign language up his wazoo;
Or the traveler only untrue To his wife with his tallis bag's blue Satin lining, stained stiff With shot jissom--"For if A man screws, he can hardly unscrew."
How contrived are the sins of the Jew, For his acts file by in review Under Guilt's parade stand-- Top brass always on hand, And equipped with binoculars, too.
Greta seethed as she grabbed hat and purse: Was his grooming or etiquette worse? How completely low-class-- Finger-fucking her ass Without trimming his fingernails first!
"They call me sick!" the necrophile said. "It's my partners who lie around dead! I just like firm support During sex. Plus, that sort Of girl stays on her side of the bed."
Oh, the wonderful things I could do With the energy spent when I screw: Write, paint, think, get ahead, And--I almost just said Even fuck a new person or two.
Wide demand's made the governor sign a Bill decreeing that North Carolina Shall have no more state bird But instead the preferred (Which would be Anne DeMunn's) State Vagina.
The bill's drafters remade, in their zeal, The state flag: a raised bra shall reveal Annie's bosom. A rider Goes on to provide her Bare ass shall adorn the state seal.
On the left buttock DON'T TREAD ON ME Shall be printed; they've yet to agree On the other: it might Proclaim FIRM IN THE RIGHT, Or, if not, then, BEAT THIS, TENNESSEE!
Did it bother Anne having to pose For the flag, seal, and portrait in prose Of her privates enshrined In the bill? "I don't mind; Without laws and stuff, anything goes."
Open-minded, elastically jawed, And Electroluxlike, Edna awed All to whom her lips clung Or who'd hosted her tongue On its long expeditions abroad. On returning her tongue to its place In the mouth of her own charming face She'd explain, "Out of spit. Grab that Tupperware--it Holds the extra I lay by in case."
In the annals of ill-conceived sex, Who's the equal of Oedipus Rex With his dick down a track He'd come up ages back-- Reexploring old haunts, in effect.
All our manners and mores instruct Us in do's and don'ts Oedipus ducked. Going out on blind dates Is one thing; when one mates With one's mother, the family's fucked.
But Jocasta, one hastens to say, Shares the blame for the plot of the play: When you will not refuse To let kids in your cooz Then you spoil them in the worst way.
The thing cannot but breed complications, Not to speak of genetic mutations. Any woman who bears Her own grandchildren shares Much too much with the next generations.
"Huh!" The city boy, Bobby O'Rourke, Told by camp counselors it was the stork Who brought babies, said, "Gee, Well, out here maybe. We Don't fuck birds too much back in New York."
"We are ladies here. Though you may date, Bletchley girls mayn't entertain late: After seven o'clock Students stop sucking cock, And vaginas close promptly at eight."
Though the oral is still ballyhooed, The Greek anal tradition is viewed As ignoble now: it's The rare man who admits To the act through which it is renewed.
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And boggle at what's gone before--
Or rather does it not, like us,
Do what it must, and nothing more?
And is there credo any know
More sound than that--to just adjust,
adjust, adjust, adjust, adjust,
And every trouble, worry, woe,
Ignore, ignore, ignore, ignore?
That's the second stanza of Coen's first poem (titled "We Sheep") in this short collection and not at all what I had anticipated. I thought it beautiful, Eliot-esque even.
From there it degenerates ("degenerates" sounds more negative than what I was going for) into coarser language and crasser subjects. The difference between the first and second poems is particularly shocking. My initial reaction was distaste, but once I got over the shock, I quite liked it. The sentiments expressed (and oftentimes the words used) were not beautiful, but the total product was--in an odd, twisted way. Coen covers such broad, bawdy subjects as picking up chicks, bestiality, and farts. Lots of farts. Also included are over a dozen pages of limericks. The cadences are sometimes a little off, but they had me giggling.
Between all of that roughness, there's the occasional beautiful poem whose unexpectedness just took my breath away.
Poetry doesn't haven't to be stuffy. Poetry doesn't have to be so highbrow all the time. This is accessible poetry, rhythmic (and rhyming) poetry, poetry with something genius trying to show itself, and I would recommend this collection to anyone who won't offend easily or take it too seriously.
(Received through Goodreads First Reads.)
By Ethan Coen
Broadway Paperbacks, 121 pgs
The Day the World Ends (Poems) is a thin (literally and figuratively) collection of poetry brought to us by Ethan Coen, celebrated writer of screenplays for movies such as Fargo, The Big Lebowski and Raising Arizona. What most of us don't know is that Mr. Coen has also published volumes of short stories and poems such as Gates of Eden: Stories and The Drunken Driver Has the Right of Way: Poems.
I have been a fan of Ethan Coen's films for years and I wish I could say that I had enjoyed his poetry. I wish I could say that he has broken new ground or made a contribution to the art form or was at the very least reaching for something, even something intangible. But alas, what we got is mediocre at best. I suspect that Mr. Coen's name gets him published when lesser mortals would not be. The Day the World Ends (Poems) has very little to offer. The huge majority of the pieces in this book are scatological, concerned with buttocks, genitalia, various and sundry sex acts and feces. There are pages and pages of limericks that might have been written by a 13-year-old boy, crass and profane.
BUT it wasn't all bad. I'd like to single out a couple of poems for further consideration. On Seeing Venice for the First Time is a spare, fitting tribute to the author's first visit to the city. He is almost speechless and it made me smile to think of him there, a sophisticated artist done in by the romance of Venice. To the English Language bows to the power of words, the power of naming and the comfort taken from knowing that someone else has felt the same as you feel and wrote it down and survived. This poem is a throw-away but has my favorite title: When My Marbles Have Left Me Will You Have?
So, I cannot recommend The Day the World Ends (Poems). Mr. Coen's short stories have garnered better reviews so you may want to try those. In the meantime, make some popcorn and turn on Netflix.
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