For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ,
in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
To the one we are the savour of death unto death;
and to the other the savour of life unto life.
II Corinthians 2:15, 16
I take an ember from the pyre
and consecrate this smoldering fire:
a glowing coal on which to burn
an aromatic thought, and earn
a crown, perhaps . . . or a stampede:
mad hooves to make a poet bleed.
An ode to the dull-wit herd’s defensors:
self-appointed poetic censors.
Where would we be without the squeal,
their rolling eyes, their bovine zeal?
Quick to enforce what’s orthodox—
(upon their coward souls a pox)
swift to castigate dissent
their peeved opinions swift to vent—
lest people think that poetry
should harbor strength or liberty . . .
They offer up their condemnation
spiced with righteous indignation:
“Racist, sexist, bigoted too!”
(which means: they disagree with you)
Their catch-all battle-cry for trouble:
“INTOLERANT !” (They are intolerable.)
“It’s narrow-minded, mean-spirited, hateful.”
Such input ought to make us grateful.
Theirs the reactionary faction:
poetic thought-police in action.
To stand opposed, reviled by such
may indicate perhaps, a touch
of true and living inspiration
causing unsympathetic vibration.
If wit in rhyme has touched a nerve
for bold opinion, dissident verve,
then let their frowns be crowns of laurel
rather than further cause for quarrel.
Accusation by the herd
is compliment enough. Preferred
to empty praise for vapid lines
from toilers in depleted mines.
Cows are fattened for the feast.
They have a space to moo at least—
then comes the reckoning at the end.
But a Poet’s curse is to defend
inviolate, his chanted word
against the corn-fed lowing herd.
When they, in turn, inflict their verse
no vengeance dare we take, nor curse.
But calmly, let us pour upon them
words that build into an anthem
strengthened by scorn, a song of change
to goad their dullness, and derange
their poetaster fantasy
exposed as moral bankruptcy
symptomatic of a dying nation
set against lyrical liberation.
I pray my words may rise to heaven
free of rancor, void of leaven
a fragrant smoke of life to life
ascending God-ward through the strife.
(But let them rot, a charnel breath
to dying souls as death to death.)