It Doesn’t Matter What You Do
Pace Philip Larkin
You fuck them up, your girl and boy.
It doesn’t matter what you do.
The latest theories you employ
Will make them flaming assholes, too.
And then, to maximize despair,
Greedy daughters and selfish sons
Repay your fine parental care
By breeding Young Republicans.
Whose Name Is On the Bomb?
My travel agents were Hitler and Stalin.
Klepto Gypsies sat atop the moral order
in Belgrade, my pothole, my prison, my toilet.
We ate surreal for breakfast, figured black cats
for good luck, our toys, plastic shovels for digging
graves that took so long we stacked the dead three
high. I was anti-everyone, Krauts, Reds, Brits, Yanks.
“Whose name do you see on a bomb?” my father asked,
rocked from his cot by the latest bedroom explosion.
Belgrade devoured cannon shot like a magnet craves
iron filings. After the war, I became a rubble rouser—
bullet-bit helmets, gunpowder, shell casings, anything
to trade for a discarded C-ration, a schnitzel, slippers,
American smokes. A gangster with a gangster name,
I might have ended up the stud star of my own War
Crimes Tribunal, pouring acid on Pontius Pilate,
if it hadn’t been for this mouthy thug, old lady Poetry.
Bitch was a mirror.
Just what I needed—a no-hoper’s self-portrait.
But she word-whipped me into submission.
First I thought I was looking at the imagist spawn
of a transcendentalist, later, a quarter-Pounder
of modernist. What happened is what you’re reading
now: dark and haunted, a dogsbody lexiconman,
exiled from the School of Perdition & Desire.
—J. Patrick Lewis, Westerville, OH