Thursday, November 17, 2005

Like The Rules For The New York School

Apologies for absence; I've been belly up to the bar of the Nag's Head, in St. John's Road, trawling the collected Kenneth Koch.

Community outreach is not being neglected. While perched in a corner, trying to keep a straight face and drink my bodyweight in awful domestic lager, an attractive young barmaid came over and expressed curiosity as to what I was reading. I said something mealy-mouthed about poetry. An hour or so later she reapproached and asked to see it. Against my better judgment I showed her some of the juicier passages from The Art of Love, which I'm (as of today) convinced is one of the best love poems ever written. It's an extremely long litany of boisterous advice from the distressingly goat-like Koch, with lots of surreal interludes about hippos fucking and attempts to make the reader buy other products of his from The optimistically named Shop of Love. It starts out innocently enough, with
To win the love of women one should first discover
What sort of thing is likely to move them, what feelings
They are most delighted with their lives to have; then
One should find these things and cause these feelings...
which is unobjectionable - in fact, admirably pragmatic - and inspires the casual service-industry employee to read further. Unfortunately, most of the ensuing advice consists of progressively bizarre BDSM metaphors; the barmaid happened upon
To make your girl into an airplane, ask her to lie down on a large piece of canvas
Which you have stretched out and nailed to a thin sheet of aluminum, or, if you are economizing, of balsa wood [it continues in this vein for quite a while]
...Carry her to the airport, or to any convenient field,
And put her on the ground. Ask her to "take off!" If she does, you have lost a good mistress...
but really, there are many parts that probably would have gotten me 86'd outright. As it was, she just giggled nervously post-perusal and had a co-worker cover my part of the bar for the remainder of the evening. Another job well done, poetry!