January 5, 2007

Tom Clark, Disordered Ideas (Black Sparrow, 1987).

I have no idea how this book recently appeared on my shelf; considering my recent mass divestment of all things book-like, I was suprised to find this in one of my several stacks of things to read.

Vaguely remembering that Tom Clark was the poetry editor for the Paris Review (1963-73), I was all prepared for the standard acutely observational poems that make up the mainstream. And yes, there in here. I wasn't quite prepared, however, for the proliterian tone that seems to run throughout:

the rich buy
themselves out of it
("Commuting," 111)

An oasis of reflection leached out
Of the gross drone of the bourgeoisie...
("Glassitude," 105)

Art in our time is a toy of the middle
class, I said...
("Thinking About Pound on Shattuck Avenue," 118)

art has become a trained poodle
of the techno social elite
("Shattuckworld," 120)

The rich would eat the poor
if it were leagal and the
poor tasted better
("The Age of Cain Diet," 122)

Then there's the 11 page sympathetic narrative poem, "Pressures of the Assembly Line" (77-88), that details a factory worker who gets suspended only to come back with a rifle aimed at management:

Sonny killed
them both
in their swivel chairs
with single
the cool
of chaos
was improving him
as a navigator
of his
fate (85).



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