Issue 69, Spring 1977
It’s been suggested by the New Radicals
in America that perhaps the best, no,
the penultimate act would be, of all things,
to not act at all, to, ha, ha, just let this
honey-crusted Republic stew in its own juices.
As one who attempts to keep his finger
in the dike, so to speak, I find
such a proposition
100% abhorrent to my very constitution.
I like to think that my position is understood,
particularly by fellow artists,
but when I see poems about“plastic”
it very nearly convinces me that, indeed,
I am fighting for a cause quite in vain.
I can only offer documentary evidence:
Now and then I teach Freshman English, and,
as a matter of course, after reading the past masters,
Jonson, Pope, Keats, you know who they are,
I, well, ask the kids to see what they can do.
Seventeen students enrolled in my class this semester.
Let’s see now;
two wrote about love, which never came to be,
three dealt with the state of mankind, fallen,
two made it quite clear that they didn’t plan on living
through the week, and the remaining ten considered “plastic”
from eight of the possible nine angles, failing to treat
only, as one might expect, the Aristotelian unities
of time, space and place, vis-a-vis “plastic.”
As a matter of fact, to my knowledge
such a poem has never been written.
Perhaps it’s the last chance “plastic” has of
achieving cogent artistic form:
you can’t tell about these things.