Here's for All
by John Roche
Here’s for all those poets who never publish. Rolls of rotting paper in drawers and closets and under sinks. Bathtubs full of manuscripts. Notebooks available only to St. Peter. Here’s for those who do, but never leave their mountain hovels—just send their poems out to friends’ little magazines, regular as epistles from the Unabomber. Here’s for all those poets who never attend cocktail parties ‘cause they can’t remember names very well and the arts patronesses in their low-cut gowns make them nervous. Here’s for the Vietnam Vet poet skulking in the back of the hall. Here’s for the tenured Beat poet playing jazz real loud in his office, or the one who shouts Go Away! when students knock or the one who sends poison-pen emails to administrators at midnight or the brilliant one barred from teaching by the dead hand of Moriarty or the one tapping away into the night on his manual typewriter, hoping to get it all down, intent made clear, before lymphoma silences him. And here’s for the young poet who freaks out on acid and is soothed by a famous shamanic poetess, and years later gets a transsexual operation to become Tiresius. And here’s for the gifted millionaire who gives it all away to starving musicians to free his angel, and the one who blows a fortune on heroin and the one who plays William Tell unsuccessfully and the one who climbs the devil tree and can’t get down. And here’s for the poet who gives up poetry to follow the false gods of Deconstruction. And here’s for the poet who wanders the many rooms of his father’s mansion, but can’t find an exit. And here’s for the poet who gets tossed out of the art gallery reception for having sex in the john. And here’s for the poet who really thinks liberation means he can go anywhere without clothes, radiant in the checkout aisle. And here’s for the poet who hangs herself on Halloween when sleep won’t come any other way. And here’s for the poets who watch the aurora borealis ‘cause someone had a craving for a cigarette and so left the party and so noticed There’s a whole other universe up there! and got them all to drive drunkenly out to the cornfields to watch. And here’s for the poet who tore up my bathroom in a rage and my wife had to cuff him and throw him out into the night, where there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And here’s for the poet who got his life back at 50, with his mother dead his father dead and his relatives all dead dead, but they left him with a handsome monthly stipend. And here’s for the poets who blow their brains out, or worse, let their gray matter slowly seep into ten thousand composition papers, along with the red of their pens. And here’s for all the poets who wait their turn interminably until the featured poet finishes expounding and they might get a few moments at the mic, they might, if the line’s not too long and if everybody obeys the time rule and if they can be heard over the cappuccino machine and the sound of the cash register. And here’s for the poets who wish they were musicians so they could get laid. And here’s for the poets who wish they were artists so they could get paid. And here’s for the poets who wish they weren’t academics. And here’s for the poets who wish they’d studied Greek so they could read Sappho in the original. And here’s for the poets who wish they were priests so they could cast out demons. And here’s for the poets who wish their chants could really STOP THE WAR instantly. And here’s for all the poets. And here comes everybody.
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"Here's for All" is included in ROAD GHOSTS, a poetry collection by John Roche (theenk Books, 2011). ROAD GHOSTS is available through Small Press Distribution.
Above: members of the Handmade Orchestra at RIT’s Innovation Center (Rochester), from a ustream video feed projected onto a wall at Ball Hall (Chicago)
Here’s for All was performed during a telematic collaboration that happened during the Sixth Annual Chicago Calling Arts Festival on October 14, 2011. John Roche directed the score. The performers at Ball Hall (Chicago, IL) and RIT’s Innovation Center (Rochester, NY) included--
Click on the links below to listen to the audio from the performance: