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Page 153

I've got to stop interrupting my sentences
with long, quibbling parentheses. It's mannerism.
It's too easy to do. I don't want to be easy
to do. I'm not that kind of a poet.

Though it can make for popularity --
if the fashion catches on. Hemingway may be remembered
as one of those most skilled at doing Hemingway.

Nobody does Tolstoy. Even he gave it up
long before he died. Don't try this at home, kids.
It looks easy, but to do me is to be me,
and the job is taken -- a dirty, nasty job,
but someone imagined he had to do it.

Since another of my mannerisms is self-contradiction,
I should fill the rest of this page with consecutive
and concentric parentheses full of dead-ended metaphors
and puns, the ones that failed to make the Major Leagues.

That's what my parentheses are for --
a place to use up the ideas that couldn't sustain
their own poems. And here and there
a mock parenthetical that is really
my main point, under cover -- a form of understatement.

But no, I will not put my words between
a vertical frown and a vertical grin; rather
will I be doubly self-contradictory by not
contradicting myself after all. That's all for now --
I've got to dash ----

Note: You can readily verify that hundreds of writers (including Hemingway) "did" Hemingway. But it is hard to find anyone who has found a way to "do" Tolstoy (especially the Tolstoy of War and Peace, Anna Karenina and The Death of Ivan Illych). This isn't a matter of popularity. It's simply that there are no obvious gimmicks in Tolstoy. His style is as transparent as air. But he, himself, gave up on what he did better than anyone before or since, put down his own finest work (said it was elitist and insufficiently moral, in that the illiterate peasantry of his land could not read and understand it or learn needed values from it), mostly abandoned it and began writing religious parables and moral tracts, fine in themselves, even moving, but to many readers, it seemed a great loss.

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