Did You Mean Más o Menos?

Wikipedia Poem, No. 510

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“How about an oak leaf / if you had to be a leaf?” James Schuyler

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Wikipedia Poem, No. 244

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“Many people feel threatened by exclusion[.]” Ben Lerner


to 
          work with poetry
less denotes 
an assumption 
          associated with this way from 
this and that and intuit 
social differences—manage this 
manage that do what 
is true for everyone or for no one or for everyone 
but I think really disappoint them
         their demand social poetry 
    gets you 
          internal expectation 
      could do to eradicate difference—
poems achieve 
      really disappoint 
main 
     demands
  don't say good poems 
   do 
what 
          is true 
      for everyone 
         or for no one but 
this is true for everyone or 
for 
everyone or for everyone or for everyone or 
  forget everyone or 
predict nothing 
in the second person

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Source: Clune, Michael. The hatred of poetry: An interview with Ben Lerner. The Paris Review, 30 June 2016. Web. 2 July 2016.

John Ashbery

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Reading Ben Lerner from behind
Without Ben Lerner's express written consent
I am Ben Lerner "noctilucent"
Against Ben Lerner's particular ass 

The pedals of the tricycle in Ben Lerner's front yard
     haven’t rotated, felt reciprocation in months 
But nonetheless, here I am, Ben Lerner
Atop Ben Lerner, concerned about Death
All tucking away the c-word from an old,
     untitled Ben Lerner poem,
     an even older poem by Wallace Stevens

From Ben Lerner's mind 
To Ben Lerner's mouth 
And into, and onto, Ben Lerner's
     night-blooming genera.

§, 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