This poem is one of my rare forays into postmodernism, the result of reading John Ashbery’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror”—twice. I wrote it in one sitting, completely off the cuff. I let it rest a few days, came back to it, and can only say I believe it improved on Ashbery. Nevertheless, I welcome the reader’s discernment here, together with suggestions for improvement. I’m thinking about a much longer poem channeling Ashbery’s brain that explores the Self-portrait as it relates to the Sack of Rome.
I say of a crowd well heeled
”Vanilla extract on a silver platter”
But that is less a compensation
Than the hordes ride with their envy;
The young hordes have more time
And there are billions of them
Though with paper plates, or rather,
Because of paper plates
To triumph. And so I tell the “best,”
The all-complacent arriviste,
Smug in his contempt of me, his own
Who does not own:
Be done with your toys and silver platters
These are totems of your death;
Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw
You are savage in your ken —
Worse, without the willing gene.
Go! Outgrow your extinction,
This gaudy death wish,
And make a toy to live!
Vanilla extract on a paper plate.