Monday, May 14, 2012

Haul your ass over here / pronto.

THE POET'S INVOCATION TO HIS MUSE

by Irving Layton
My alter ego, my diabolical other Self
where are you? A whole mouth goes by,
yet not a single peep from you.
Let me have it straight! Did you grow careless
from too long service? Or was it the tremors of old age
made you spiteful and prankish. You gone
invoking your attendance
my scribbles are as pale as a watermark.
No fire in them, no punch. Return, make my brain
boil again. Make it seethe with the blood
of electrified hitmen and of gallant warriors
dying in an odious cause. How many sheets
must I blacken before you [set?] a premonitory fire
to make my Self [shudder?] with familiar joy.
I'm serious, not even Coleridge's famous ode
on despondency cheers me, nor Shelley's moan,
marvellous and eloquent, while the bay's waters
around him sparkle and dance.
What hope for that mortal so lost to gloom even
another's misery fails to restore his self-esteem
[to rectitude?] with one of life's vital lies or illusions.
My case is desperate. Haul your ass over here
pronto. Abandoned, I'll sit here forever
like a paralytic, like a just-invented Frankenstein
waiting for that first charge to shock him back to life.

(One of Layton's last poems, found in Box 31 of the Layton collection at Concordia University in Montreal. A clutch of pages stapled together; multiple drafts of a poem the poet began, but never completed, towards the end of his writing life.  Transcribed by Donald Winkler, with help from Anna Pottier. Photo by Terry Brynes. Originally published in Books in Canada, March 2003. )

Via the véhicule press blog.

2 comments:

מבול said...

There is an astonishing proliferation of
sock puppets, doppelgangers, stunt doubles, alter egos.
Stage door johnnies, hothouse flowers, fairweather friends, shade tree mechanics.
Saviors, seekers, sorcerers, messiahs.
Misfits, outliers, oddballs, kooks.
Fops, rubes, geeks and hangers-on.

Shelley said...

Writers write till the end.