Monday, May 9, 2016

The Fight Song of the J Edgar Hoover Memorial Asylum

Monday is poetry day in this blog, so here's our second poem in the series. I've always been partial to this one for its driving push throughout and for all the play on words and meter. All of my poetry is in the book Counting Stars at Forty Below.

The Fight Song of the J. Edgar Hoover Memorial Asylum

Hush! the din and listen to this tale you know so well
of time and clock and hospital gown
(Invoke the muse: without her life is sterile)
Listen! pistol barks siren screams
tower lights snake into your dreams
in this plague this prison no one escapes alive
Spring days they praised my promise raw:
“Spring this tide of Holy Water
borrower & lender be
sail across the shining sea
be good in bed
salute when you see a maiden’s head
keep your thoughts within the law
whisper whisper always whisper
Well now know I the way and price of every morsel
at feast where friends at frenzy feed
until tapped out and fortunes spent
they slide from sight shaved and shorn
and naked crowd the shower door when the pellets
ring down a tube of smoking stinking immortality
What force dares hold me down
between the æther and the gown
a quarter-billion maniacs out to paint the town
chasing the tail of Dow
fixing up a bad case of Jones
keeping the children above average
wrapping up the dental floss harvest
and writing letter bombs
goose-stepping hardbodies
gluttonous Pollyannas
lying low in a shack
in outback Montana.
When you create a J. Edgar Hoover vacuum
can you be surprised when the weatherman blows?
Soon the radio will warn:
“Keep your children out of garbage
and be sure to sleep upright.”
Raise high a scoop of birth and pour elided days
over these 40-hour hands weakly grasping water.
Raise high the price of tendered goods
enslave me to your store
shoot your TV in my arm
I will buy more buy more
(let me be your whore).
Tax me, just do it.
Wax my legs and fax me.
Ex-Lax me and relax me.
Just remember that TUMS
spells SMUT backwards.
Night glides into day elides into day after day glides into day after day
Walk this way with a sway slipping away to pray for lay-away
Hush! now babies don’t you cry
Orderly’s gonna bring you a Thorazine
And if that Thorazine don’t stupefy
Orderly’s gonna bring you electroshock
And if that electroshock don’t pacify
Orderly’s gonna bring you lobotomy
Well now I know the way madness lies through gritted
teeth that take a bite out of crime
and cavities filled and resonating with broadcasts
from the local civil defense station powered by CIA satellite.
Well now know I the way and price of every body at this
feast slaughtered on principle
naked crowd climbing to pyramid at shower door,
the clean consumer bathed in oil.
I shall walk, I shall defy,
and by defying, triumph!


The collection of my poems, Counting Stars at Forty Below, will be substantially discounted between 13 and 20 May. The discount will be best on the 13th. Each day afterwards the price takes a small step back toward the original price, which it will reach on the 20th or 21st. If you like the poems I've been publishing on my Monday blogs, now is your chance to seize the book for a good price.

My friend Hugh Starbuck has the ebook edition of Naked and Beautiful on promotion until sometime Tuesday. Starbuck's book is about the conflict between artists and authoritarians generally and specifically how that conflict has focused on the nude in art and photography. It's abundantly illustrated, NSFW, & 18+. You can snag the book for free.

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