Academic journal article Parnassus : Poetry in Review

Despond: A Slough

Academic journal article Parnassus : Poetry in Review

Despond: A Slough

Article excerpt

I am a prodigy of despair.

In the womb I wailed the maternal night away,

gurgling like a monkfish under water.

My Francophile parents nicknamed me "Triste,"

although my schoolmates called me "Killjoy."

At age ten I wrote a book of epigrams

tided Despond: A Slough.

Sample: "Time teaches us that happiness is nothing

more than an early phase of sorrow."

During puberty my clothes were covered

in grass stains from the hours I spent

writhing in torment en plein air.

From that angle my fathers lawn mower

made a grimace of "existential nausea,"

a cliché I knew could never replicate

the immanent sadness of inanimate objects.

In college I played the saxophone

because it had so many sad tone holes

over which my numb fingers glumly rifFed

Coltrane's "I Want to Talk about You."

I always stopped in the middle of the cadenza

because I never wanted to talk about you.

Was there a "you" anyway?

Or were you always dead air?

I see your deep ungulate eyes filling with tears

as you ask me over and over, in a hundred

bars and cafés and museum galleries,

"Are you happy? …

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