I'm putting together for publication a collection of my prose writings, tentatively titled "Where Modern Poetry Began and Other Conjectures." Here's a piece from it:
We poets of the USA should be grateful for all the support we receive from our state institutions.
Take just the CIA: not only do they found and fund magazines like the Paris Review for us,
but they also take on the dangerous task of going into foreign countries and eliminating our potential competitors . . .
For example: How many young Chilean poets were murdered or suicided or impoverished or exiled by the CIA-installed Pinochet regime?
Who remembers today the chagrin and embarrassment
that North American USA poets suffered in the past when we compared our poetry
to that of the great Chilean poets like Neruda and Parra,
how solipsistically small and provincial and futile our poems seemed when set next to theirs . . .
but now, in the succeeding decades, hasn't that situation improved thanks to the CIA's intervention?
It's not just in Chile, of course.
Imagine how many other South American poets have been killed or otherwise quashed and quelled by CIA-funded activities.
Not to mention Africa, Asia et al.
Yes: All those poets who might have produced better poems than us, whose poems might have put ours to shame, we don't have to worry about them now, do we,
because they've all been offed for us by the CIA.
We should bow our heads every day in the direction of the CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, and say a silent thanks for their benefactions.
We have been blessed. We are the Langley Poets.
Yes, every USA poet owes part of our endowment to the CIA. Whether the Paris Review has published us or not,
we've all benefited from the CIA's worldwide pogroms. Indeed—
Just as USA business cartels pay the CIA's mercenaries to assassinate and undermine and destroy their foreign competitors,
so the Academy of American Poets has commissioned similar sorties from Langley:—
"There's this poet in Sierra Leone, and . . . she writes sort of Tony Hoagland, only political, and ten times better . . . can't you do something, you know, the usual, make it look like an accident . . . prison maybe . . . okay, that's great . . . Tony can breathe easier thanks to you . . . ah if the Tonys only knew all the things you do for them, and for all our poets . . . thanks so much . . . yes, the Charles Wright first edition is in the mail to you, I had him inscribe it as always . . . no, no, thank YOU, Director Bush-Plimpton!" . . .
If USA poets won't boycott the depraved BAP, if we can't resist that cacodaemon David Lehman, you can hardly expect us to stand up and say No to the CIA, can you?
Robinson Jeffers: "Corruption is not compulsory." Oh but it pays so well—
(My understanding of the CIA is amateurish, based on novels and movies.
For example "The Good Shepherd" (2006) presents a film historical version of one Company hierarch,
who first appears as a poetry student at Yale before his recruitment into espionage.
Some of the poetry students at Yale became CIA, and some of them became poets: the question remains whether some of them became both.
Maybe that should be present-tense: become. What kind of Skull-and-Bones blood-oath do they make you swear to get your Yale Younger Poet badge—
There's a secret society someone should investigate.
I pledge allegiance to Louise Gluck and the [CLASSIFIED] for which she stands.)
So I have this paranoic-critical vision of the CIA as being upperclass Ivyleague on its higher levels at least (not all that different from Po-Biz, when you come to think of it),
arrogant rich snobs with anglo-names . . . it's not much like that in reality, I suppose, but this is my fantasy,
my fictional version—
So, above, when I have the CIA's "asset" at the Academy of American Poets phone Langley to request a termination-with-extreme-prejudice on an alien po-threat to Tony the Hoag,
I imagine them coalescing with Director Bush-Plimpton, head of the CIA's Cultural Affairs Division,
And the latter being "repaid" with an addition to his collection of Charles Wright books.
Why Wright? Is that fair?—
After all, Bush-Plimpton's Virginia estate is probably larger than Charles Wright's manse . . . I don't doubt his income is higher than Wright's . . . plutocrat/poetcrat—
but despite their payscale diffs and divides,
I picture B-P as honoring the capitalist merit-system of Success that spiritually unites the two of them,
and I can see him acquiesce with nods and doffs of admiration at the bravura displays of Wright's tradecraft,
the skillful delays and declensions of that author's elegantly tepid variations:
how a diaristic prose is made to seem almost poetic by the strategic use of inflated introversions and drop-lines;
and how Wright has distinguished himself by singlehandedly elevating the Allusion to an entelechy:
how he has raised Namedropping to a modality.
And especially since Bush-Plimpton himself, in his day to day occupation
of masterminding coups and kickbacks and assassinations in the cultural camps of the world,
he too must shoulder the task of creating Phantom Identities:
no wonder he appreciates the poet's flair for it.
And all of Wright's bucolic backyard musings on the Big Questions of Nature and Fate and Art,
they echo his, B-P's,
as he too, like the poet, lounges in the garden behind his mansion
and gazes out over the vales and values of his desmesne and lets the second vodka turn his thoughts into blink-eyed chin-scratching damps and ramp-ups
not dissimilar to Wright's ponderistic longueurs . . .
Remember that B-P's scion at the Agency, James Jesus Angleton, was a reverent disciple of Ezra Pound (I assume Angleton ran the Op that saved Pound from a treason trial) . . .
Bush-Plimpton following JJA's lead favors the non-Leftist poets (or the non-political poets, the apolitical poets).