Cleaving Rexroth

Kenneth Rexroth

“An unnamable and useless
courage, for sure"—Roberto Bolaño

Kenneth Rexroth—he’s got that look
That beat look—you know what I mean?

Poor Rexroth—looks like he’s been
Down so long—everything else looks up

Ever felt that way—about yourself?
About the crummy people—around you?

Rexroth doesn’t—look hip like Kerouac
He doesn’t look wise-ass—like Neil Cassady

Rexroth looks—like his face had been
Run over by a—San Francisco streetcar

Look at those rings—under his eyes
They look like spare tires—of despair…

Rexroth doesn’t—look like Ginsberg
No Beatnik Bodhissattva—smiling at you

Big sad eyes—his face caving in
What makes a poet—looks so sad-sack?

Is it the look—of gone IWW Anarchism?
Wobblies in Chicago—shot dead in Everett?

Is that what makes him—look so wasted?
So burned-out—looking away from you?

Maybe it’s too much Kafka—every day?
Too many creeps—The Trial that stays?


Maybe too much Sartre—all the time
Look around you—No Exit from Assholes?

Whatever it is—it isn’t very pretty
Maybe because—he’s looking at you?

Greek Tragedy—without Translation
Pillow Books—and Hiroshima?

Writers all seem to get—that way
Writers and poets—they burn out fast

Rexroth writes—to James Laughlin
Tells him he doesn’t—believe in anything

Except marriage—and holy matrimony
Even that goes down the drain—4 times

He gets disillusioned—with San Francisco
Creeley & the Beats—they queer it for him

The hippies aren’t—much better either…
Stoned—and bought off by Big Brother?

Santa Barbara—Viet Nam War protests
Even that bores him—who cares about poetry?

Bourgeois American youth—getting off easy
Compared with Allende—and Mexico City

Kent State death—just a blip on the radar
Compared with Chile—and Argentina…

Rexroth’s libido survives—in Japan
Finding refuge—translating the goddess

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