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Page 45

Criticism, however "constructive", arms
and cocks the blank page; the poet
must now produce at gun point.
Safest for a poet to be a moving target:
He must expose his poems, if they are to be
"discovered", but by the time he's been
discovered, the poet should be someone and

somewhere else. And those who read the words
of this someone else will reread earlier works
to discover that he had always been
someone else -- but by then he will be
yet another someone, always a step ahead
of what can be discovered, thus,
neither scathed by pans, nor sticky with honeyed
raves directed at someone he no longer is,

not even stymied by the silence
of never having been discovered at all,
each blank page new, unvoiced
until he gives it voice, fresh as morning
to one who rises, a new man, not trailing
mortgages, resentments and a million old
maybes, along with all the decisions ever made
to solve those maybes never resolved.

(Wait! We know, don't we, that poets lead
miserable lives, drug-raddled, promiscuous,
self-doubting, irresponsible, cadging
from people they despise, pissing
on respectable rugs? How can we think
that it's all about the ability to confront
a blank page, if that comes from
the same unfetteredness we call
a good life?)

Note: I've read that Dylan Thomas, invited to homes of fawning poetry patrons and matrons after one of his readings, well-stoked with booze, was known to have entertained one or more of his hosts and hostesses by pissing on the carpet – or was it into the fireplace? Probably they were shocked, outraged, deploring. But I wonder if patches of those carpets are now available on E-Bay?)

Odd that the opposite of a critical pan is a critical rave. I suppose the idea is that the deadly bad review hits the poet in the face like a thrown skillet -- or a cream pie in a pie pan? (Then the poet is out for a pan nap.) There is no critical pot, for some reason. (Nor does one smoke pan.) Did Pan the piper get panned? (A Pan pan.) Would a poet of little skill get skillet-ed? I'd think the opposite of a rave would be a mope or a dumbness or a sullenness or a laconicism. And perhaps a deadpan. The opposite of a pan? I suppose a breath of fresh, pine-scented mountain or salty sea-side air, if we're speaking of being hit in the face by something as positive as a pan in the face is negative.

One hit in the face by a flying (frying?) pan should try to take it with pan ache (i.e., panache) -- similar to pun ache.

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