Robert Lax vs. Sandra Simonds

I would bet
but I have no
money with
which to
place a bet.

I bet you began
with that clever
little line tossed
out like a thousand caltrops
at the end of the poem.

Whether I win or lose
I lose—I start like this
with my tongue split
the tastebuds lost young
precept armed with
poll tax and pollaxe.

One switch turns off the internet
another makes all the previous
words shed fear skin embellish-
ment—I’ll push one now:

begin clear
toss caltrops
the poem ends

win or lose
—split tongue—
pollaxe, poll tax

two switches
no more twitter
fear of embellishment

Now I’ll push
the other:

clear
caltrops
poem

split
tongue
poll tax/axe

two
switches
fear

“Orpheus in Athens” by Jack Spicer

Jean-Léon_Gérôme_-_Diogenes_-_Walters_37131

Diogenes the onion-eater, watched by dogs, sitting in his tub. By Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1860

The boy had never seen an honest man.
He looked among us every night he said.
He eyed each stranger like Diogenes
And took him with his lantern into bed.
He'd probe the stranger's body with that light
Search every corner of his flesh and bone
But truth was never there. He'd spend the night
Then leave him and resume his search alone.
I tried to tell him there was some mistake
That truth's a virtue only strangers lack.
But when he turned to face me with a kiss
I closed my lying heart against his lips.

From “My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer”