Monday, June 8, 2009

Letter to Oscar Wilde

Letter to Oscar Wilde

“Then Oscar made—his escape
Onboard a yacht—Erith to Dieppe”
—Oscar Wilde Revisited

It seems to me—you had good advice to flee
the courts gave you a chance—to get out of the

country, the Marquis of Queensberry— and his
thug-detectives could have been given the slip

the estate and incomplete manuscripts, the house
the whole ball of wax—could have been done better

instead of the sham auction—of your books, mss,
furniture, belongings—all of that could

have been protected legally—or moved elsewhere
with some foresight—and the help of friends

But most important—you could have had an
honorable exile—a chance to kept your reputation

friends and connections—much better as a kosher
exile with some much needed funding—rather than

fallen disgraced broke—Sebastian Melmoth with
Bosie the Leach pulling you—down even further

so much for fickle public opinion—theater goers
came to your plays to be—entertained and dished

so that it was unwise—for you to throw your welfare
to the mercy of the very society—you’d satirized and

made fun of—perhaps a big mistake for an uppity
Irishman playwright—a writer in a Victorian fish tank

full of sharks and bottom fish—ahead of your time
the world loves a winner—skip Miss De Profundis

an earlier Parisian exile—would’ve been stylish
how many other exiled writers—James Joyce

Henry James—Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas
Ernest Hemingway—James Baldwin, Paul Bowles

the difference being—respected Exiles are quick
not Melmoth monsters—not ruined physically and

kicked dead by Reading—or made slowly mad by
St. Elizabeth’s—Miss Verlaine left in a daze

but hindsight rarely—conforms to the real
we may never know—why you didn’t escape

But what if you escaped—became Parisian literary
exile—gay provocateur for post-Victorian gay lib

all those shiploads of fags—fleeing Great Britain
for the City of Light—your homo Lost Generation

with its poverty, absinthe—hustling, ennui
and ultimately boredom—your creative spirit dead

instead growing and flourishing—bright Exile Lite
nascent GLBT literary movement—kick-started

the Plathian Arielesque—rebel paradigm
pushing queer lit and freedom—onto the stage

where you could make—things happen adroitly
edging decadence—into postmodern kitsch

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