Thursday, September 30, 2004

My Comrades: A Poem by Joe Speer


this one teaches
that one lives with his mother and cat
another pencraft master takes drugs,
non prescription
and cleans house
as his wife earns a living
this graduate of writer’s cramp
sleeps on couches,
drinking beer
and making his spiel
In 1469 Sir Thomas Malory wrote
Le Morte d’Arthur
while in prison
a French ambassador paid Cervantes
a visit in 1616
he expressed surprise to find
the author of Don Quixote
“a gentleman, a soldier,
and so poor”
the ambassador suggested
such a man be subsidized
in 1849 Dostoevsky was arrested
charged with having a
secret printing press
in 1851
Herman Melville’s Moby Dick
was worth more melted down
as lamp oil
than for any literary
commercial clout
in 1871 Thomas Hardy
published his first novel
at his own expense
in 1898 Emile Zola was
prosecuted by the government
found guilty of libeling the army
friends smuggled him to England
in 1913 Marcel Proust
published Swann’s Way
at his own expense
censorship and allegations
about his doubtful patriotism
forced D. H. Lawrence into expatriation
William Faulkner smuggled rum
on a speedboat in a Louisiana bayou
until his sound became a fury
this inkslinger used to print
on duplicating machines
another transcriber
hangs out in the public library
an annotator announces a rescript
of a recently discovered
Shakespeare play
another comes from a rich family,
like Henry James
and does not touch
“the skin of the working people”
my comrades are everywhere
next time the phone rings
it will be a poet
we are saving the world
one poem at a time

Beatlick Joe Speer