I've been going through all those old poems of mine trying to patch together a new book of old poems. The poems go back 20-30 years and some are okay and some are so dreadful that no muse can fix them, and I wonder what I'm going to do with these. I know what will happen to the good ones. I'll put them in the book.
But the bad ones?
What do you do with embarrassing poems?
It reminds me of a poem I wrote a while ago.
It was about Whitman's final Death Bed Edition of Leaves of Grass and how some critics think he put too many of the bad poems into it.
Anyway, here's the poem.
It's called "Please Talk About Me When I'm Gone." -- I'm not sure I'll include it in the book.
Please Talk about Me When I’m Gone
Really, I think we can't think about good
and bad poems when we think about
our life's work. You look at Whitman’s Death-
bed Edition of Leaves of Grass--98% garbage—
Weeds of Grass--but nonetheless it's all fine.
Likewise, William Carlos Williams.
Did we really need so much of Patterson?
Or how about Ginsberg? Please, no more “Howls”!
Who would say such a thing? We all agree--
There it all is, and there it all should be.
Let’s not quibble. Let's just include it all.
I have poems in my unpublished collection,
"Idiot's Guide to John Guzlowski,"
that--in all modesty--are abominations.
If Moses had read them, he would’ve written
a commandment against them, maybe even two.
Really. So let's not think about being too critical.
Let's let future generations of literary critics
and readers, if there are any, sort all that out.
I mean, there must have been some real reason
Williams asked forgiveness for writing about
the icebox and eating those delicious plums.
How sweet and cold could they have been?