§, by Ben Lerner

Now to defend a bit of structure: beeline, skyline, dateline, saline—
now to torch your effluent shanty
so the small rain down can rain. I’m so Eastern that my Ph.D.
has edible tubers, my heart a hibachi oiled with rapeseed. I’m so Western that my Ph.D.

can bang and bank all ball game, brining the crowd to its feet
and the critics to their knees. Politically speaking, I’m kind of an animal.
I feed the ducks duck meat in duck sauce when I walk to clown school in my clown shoes.
The Germans call me Ludwig, bearer of estrus, the northern kingdom’s
professional apologist. The Germans call me Benji, the radical browser,
alcoholic groundskeeper of the Providence Little League. All readers of poetry

are Germans, are virgins. All readers of poetry sicken me. You, with your Soviet Ph.D.
and Afghan tiepin. You with your penis stuck in a bottle. And yes, of course, I sicken me,
with my endless and obvious examples
of the profound cultural mediocrity of the American bourgeoisie.


from Ben Lerner’s The Lichtenberg Figures

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