Thursday, June 2, 2011

Learning My Limits

Ray Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and that bunch

Write poetry in prose – without the rhyme –

And, while the rest of us are out to lunch,

Make fancy dinners. It’s a hardboiled crime

That they can write such poetry while I

(Poor I) limp forward on gun-blasted knees . . .

Toward what end? – and, yes, it’s true, I’d die

To write such beautiful calamities.

My weaknesses are many, I admit,

Starting (name it!) with my proclivity

For words like “proclivity” and all that shit

In syllables of more than two or three,

Although I know simplicity’s a grace

When writers write about a shotgunned face.


That’s number two – the shotgunned face, I mean:

My second weakness is a taste for grit,

The grittier the better – in between

My teeth . . . and in my ears and eyes, for it

(I.e. the grit) is like the hot sauce on a taco,

Without which you eat only meat and bread.

In Irish, I like Bruen; in Spanish, Paco

Ignacio Taibo – for both of whom the dead

Are only dead if shot between the eyes

Or in the balls. I tend in such directions

Myself: dead bodies must have worms and flies;

Dead men with shot-off balls must have erections.

It’s ugly, much too ugly, I admit it,

And that is why I’m always quick to edit.


Now, wait, I don’t rhyme either: “admit it”/”edit”?

But that won’t make me either Cain or Hammett

(I say it now, as I have often said it:

“Damnit, damnit, damnit, damnit damnit!”).

What other faults have I? I have too many

To fit inside the space of just a sonnet –

More than the pinks in a box of Good & Plenty.

Another false rhyme! (Damnit! Domnet! Donnet!)

Enough of all this self-excoriation!

That’s seven syllables, in case you missed.

Okay, just six. My brain is on vacation.

My head is tired and ready to be kissed.

Must be the hardboiled company I keep.

I think I’m ready for A Bad Night’s Sleep.




12 comments:

Criminal Defense Lawyer Chicago said...

This is really a nice post, that you have updated us with all of nice information that can be very useful for future aspect.

Michael Wiley said...

Well, thanks, Criminal Defense Lawyer Chicago.

Joshua Corin said...

I especially am envious about how you rhymed "grace" with "shotgunned face." Now that's just plain brilliant.

Kelli Stanley said...

Loved the versifyin', Michael! (and I think my favorite rhyme was Hammett and damn it!)

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Joshua. Only a limited demographic can recognize the potential grace in such things . . . .

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Kelli -- though I'm afraid that I'm not much of a versifier -- yet another limitation. But I also kind of like Hammett/damn it.

Meredith Cole said...

Wow! For some reason I kept hearing it as a rap song in my head. Must have been all that swearin'. Well done, Michael.

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Meredith. Yes, it might work better as rap than as a sonnet series -- and rap is definitely more hardboiled than a poem. But I think I might be (deservedly) shot off a stage if I tried it.

Gabi said...

I can't even imagine how long it took you to write this post. You have NO limits, my dear friend.

Shane Gericke said...

Dashielle would have an effin' stroke reading this--in jealousy! Way to bring "dead men with shot-off balls must have an erection" to new flights of brilliance!

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Gabi. One of my stupid pet tricks is that I can think and talk (slowly) in iambic pentameter. Not that I have anything worth SAYING that way . . . just that I can do it.

My nine-year-old son, on the other hand, can turn his tongue sideways -- more than sideways, really: almost upside down -- without touching it. That could turn out to be a more valuable skill.

Michael Wiley said...

When I wrote the line about men with shot-off balls, I thought, "At least Shane might appreciate this." It's something about the Chicago-area water that we both have drunk so much of.