On Reading Too Many of Those Artsy Poems Where the Imagination is Lofted a Wee Bit High

DeWitt Clinton

How could anyone like them, these poems by poets abroad
Written in probably pastels, comfortable clothes, in ink

I would suppose, in one of those nice black notebooks,
Probably a leather cover, with 20# paper that lets the

Fine words sink into the fiber holding every last nuance
& they’re always sipping something sweet, aren’t they,

In a piazza, or by the plaza, or someplace distinctively
Un-American, something artsy, a place I’m never going

To ever get to, not that I’m not working just as much, maybe
More, but just what is it that keeps their pens gushing on

& on, but if I were to lead such a privileged life myself,
A life of leisure, say, an all expenses sabbatical would suffice,

Why yes, I’d book the next ship out, and probably, just like
You, take up a distinguished residence in some lofty spot

With a view, again, of that awfully nice piazza or plaza
Or at least an olive grove to look out and stare into in to

All that I might imagine. What is it then that makes these
Poems, well—so “far away” and “art absorbing” with

Heavy doses of terza rima? Perhaps, and this is a pedestrian
Opinion, but have you noticed that the waiters are seldom tipped,

& for that matter, we never have gotten a very good review
Of any local trattoria, in fact, no indication, not even a nuance,

Whether the greens are fresh and crisp, or have that inky look;
Besides, who gives a rip if some ancient statuary appeals so

Beautifully, so tenderly, taking our very breath away with ahs
Appealing only to the lost who always book their flights home

Weeks if not months later, the relatives having even given up
All hope; or the forlorn, who look this way no matter what scene

Takes them inside themselves for the entire afternoon of lattes.
For these dear souls, they simply cast their eyes on what appears

So dimly lit, as if all scenes like this play better in late afternoon
Of shadows, of whispers heard, of hands moving across the page

In hopes of enlightening all of us back home in Indiana with news
That the Uffizi or the Prado was the only place left for only those

With the deepest passions of which we’ll never get to hear about
In the postcard, which by the way, comes postal due from pretty

Italy. Personally, and if you don’t mind, I’d rather book an all day
Tour, picked up right outside the lobby, take in some history, locally,

And I’d be sure to tip the guide who’s told this story to those who
Either don’t loll around the piazza, or have a short attention span

Regarding what page of culture that could come so pleasantly to
Anyone who could read the local guides. I’d take in the landscape,

Too, for that’s something that will stay deep in the memory, be part
Of something sweet and charming as one lies down to simply die.

But if you don’t mind, I’ll skip the café au lait or demitasse and just
Keep my mouth shut about how the ambience makes me want to

Drift away on some dreamy cloud poor Shelly has already found.
Pardon my English here but please stop all that whining, sniveling,

Basking in the Mediterranean artsy stuff that makes me want to puke.
But as long as we’re here, could we at least make some calls about

Greens fees, as nothing would seem more inspiring than to tee off
Into the splendid natural wilds of a beautifully maintained par 72.

Of course we wouldn’t put that into the poem, of course not, too
Faux pas, I suppose, but believe me, nothing is prettier, not even

A naked half torso-gesturing god or goddess in some museum
Than a sweet six iron lofting a new Nike so high into the sun we’ve

All lost sight until we see from out of the clouds a sweet landing,
Soft, onto a perfectly pitched 13thgreen, & then, an incredible

Left to right slope with a drop into the cup, all arms in exquisite joy:
This place, now hallowed, a dream beneath these airy, artsy skies.


About the Author

DeWitt Clinton is Emeritus Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Recent poems of his have appeared in The Last Call: The Anthology of Beer, Wine & Spirits Poetry, Santa Fe Literary Review, Verse-Virtual, Peacock Journal, The Ekphrastic ReviewDiaphanous PressMeta/ Phor(e)/ Play, and The Arabesques Review. He has a new collection of poems, At the End of the Warjust out from Kelsay Books. He lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin.