Cleaving spicer

Jack Spicer

“Billy the Kid—
in a field of poplars
with just one touch
of moonlight”
—Jack Spicer,
Billy the Kid (1958)

Jack Spicer—a quick study
Not just gay—but avant queer
Full of self-loathing—abject loneliness
Like Rimbaud—like Baudelaire
Hating everybody—especially himself

Ask America—she’ll tell you why
The Cold War zeitgeist—HUAC faggotry
Spicer’s 4-F—the ad hominems flowing
Don’t ask why—please don’t tell, baby
Whatever you do—don’t be a Poet

Be Elizabeth Bishop—flee to Brazil
Be a decent law-abiding—Poet Laureate
Be a good closet-case—shut your mouth
So what if America—hates you a lot
Spicer’s attitude was—be a Snot

Genteel readers—you’ll never know
“The Unvert Manifesto”—says it all
Billy the Kid—shoots his brains out
Jack Spicer—North Beach clairvoyant
San Francisco—queer Georgekreis cult

Spicer’s lover—cute Billy the Kid
Spicer’s father—a Wobbly drunk
Labor anthems—bored Jack Spicer
Both the Gay Left—and Gay Right
Their Political Correctitude—stunk!!!

Spicer’s poetry—Berkeley Renaissance
Before that—the Boston Public Library
Insights into—serial Emily Dickinson
Hiding there—Beinecke Rare Book Room
Martyred Emily—the Amherst cocteau

Her Heurtebise—hot house hibiscus
Her greenhouse orchids—serial verse
Before Jack Spicer—and Robin Blaser
Before the Radio—in Orphée could speak
She tuned into—New England tropes

Jack tuned in too—a quick study
After Lorca—followed by Billy the Kid
Imaginary Elegies—Heads of the Town
Up to the Aether—The Holy Grail
His Vocabulary—doing him in…

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