He was illiterate: he could not read, but he could sing, and like the illiterate nightingale was sometimes the composer of his own song.
—Herman Melville, “Billy Budd, Sailor”
Bound for a demonstration to blow up pronouns,
the Handsome Sailor threw a punch.
This is an ode to rigor to the pallor of the thinker,
pirouetting on a frozen sea….
This is an ode to cognitive erectile monuments.
All ardor hurts, thou cynosure!
The Handsome Sailor can’t scan verse he can’t
A plucky kid, but he ain’t no Joan of Art.
When a girl steps out in a home-sewn dress with
there’s consternation in the ranks.
On a rickety stage, the velvet curtain torn,
he’ll ace his orals in oblivion
as spring lungs out of a birdthroat, hacks my
What shall we do with an angel, hanging father?
To cite sources in MLA format
To wax, by turns, analytic and synthetic
To languish in regimes of the risk-averse
To fight the global war on torpor
To pine for the belletristic
To quote Chaucer in Middle English
To invoke Petronius
To tap with the rattan the boyish cheeks
To arsenal one’s womanhood in lace
To discipline and burnish
To deploy the word ekphrastic
To turn one’s back and elevate the text
To stand with drawn swords behind the men
working the guns
To vouch that nothing is perceived amiss
To swoon in syntactical darbies
To sing jazz standards for the Board of Trustees
To take, light-fucked, the full rose of the dawn
To grow, at long last, weary of a structure
To bless one’s hangman
or to mutiny