A Journal of Contemporary Arts 









What a Wit is Worth

  For John Whitworth, poet


Oh,  Whitman was a rhymer who enjoyed to play the part
Of complicating everything. It’s something of an art
To ramble on for pages on the pinprick of a thought,
Which makes word choice irrelevant, and form seem overwrought,
And chokes the flow of meter like a clot within the heart,
And leaves the scansion bumpy as an overladen cart.
Oh, you may paint your wheelbarrows as red as Commie traitors,
Make sure your plums keep cool and bland in sleek refrigerators,
And hope to Heaven you will cause great earthquakes and unease
Disturbing all the critics huddling roosted in the trees,
But Whitworth’s worth more half again than all the free verse clamor
That issued from that country boy whose hyperbolic stammer
Has branded modern poetry these hundred years or so.
So, now along the bottom road, as in arrears we go,
Feel sorry for poor poets blaring pompously, full blast—
And wave the flag for wit and humor—these things truly last.




English poet John Whitworth passed away in April of 2019.  Among his other accomplishments his last book was Joy in the Morning (Kelsay, 2016). He also wrote a book about writing poetryWriting Poetry (A&C Black, 2001)and was the editor of the anthology Making Love to Marilyn Monroe: The Faber Book of Blue Verse (Faber, 2006). Quoted on thehypertexts.com:  "I write in rhyme and metre because ... because that is what I do. That is the way poetry presents itself to me. I can't write it any other way. I'm not at all sure I would want to, but even if I did want to I couldn't."















  To Bury A Poet

   Some poets write, then publish what is written—
  Victorian ladies comment, are half smitten,
  Close followed by those ones who count mistakes—
  And in the end, well… all it ever takes
  Is some old crank know-nothing with a grudge
  To space out paragraphs of narrow sludge;
  Bean-counting lists; more negative the better;
  Word after word, to make one bitter letter.

  Ad hominem, these words are measured by
  The blot upon the page, and all in sight
  Join in the ruckus looking for a fight.
  This fan club—harsh and brash—is on the rise,
  To praise each other’s efforts to the skies.
  The poet? Buried in subservient lies.


  Sea Change

  He’s on his speaker; she’s talking on her phone.
  He hears her clearly; she feels left alone
  Beneath the surface of the deepest waves,
  And strains to find the clarity she craves

   His sentences lack something at the end,
  Then tidal pull returns them, lest the bend
  Of that deep undertow of thought and sense
  Might rise up and demand some recompense.

  Those other people climbing in his car
  Push him across the waves to take him far
  Beyond the depths where she might care to go—
  She isn’t sure how far, and must go slow.