Who has ears to hear, peep this

for Teju Cole

The kingdom of poetry is like a man who, having hired an expensive prostitute & taken her back to his apartment, kneels on the threadbare carpet in front of the chair where she has deposited her shed garments & lifts them one by one to his lips, weeping, while she sits in the kitchen wrapped in a blanket, eating General Tso’s Chicken straight from the box.

11 Replies to “Who has ears to hear, peep this”

  1. Hmm… what exactly is this piece of prose? Perhaps an elaborate poetically-worded simile? It’s a bit long to be an epigram, but the language used is compact and evocative. It could be recast into some sort of metric scheme… I suppose prose poem is how I’d categorize it. Nice effort!

  2. I think that I’ve seen that movie. It was in black and white. Made in the 40’s I think. They filmed that scene through a keyhole in the closet as I recall. I remember the name now. ” My Kingdom for a Whore”

    If you could, please send me her chopsticks.

    I will be thinking of this post of yours for a long time.

  3. This reminded me of the poem you posted a while back by Sharon Olds, Sex Without Love. Here, the poet weeps instead of plunging in to where he knows he will only find emptiness, and not even the joy of acrobatics or the race to the finish line.
    “like the partner
    in the bed, and not the truth, which is the
    single body alone in the universe
    against its own best time.”

    Each thread in her silken clothes is a poem. He weeps for these treasures he has found.

  4. Thanks for the comments. I meant to put together a more substantial post for today, but somehow it didn’t happen.

    Larry – Feel free to categorize it however you want. My own pigeonholes are really just suggestions, designed to encourage browsing.

    Fred – For some reason, I’m thinking she might prefer a spoon.

    Brett – Should a parable be read any differently than a poem, or a Sufi teaching story? Much as I like the parables in the Bible, I’ve always held a grudge against the authors of the gospels for offering glosses on a few of them.

    robin andrea – I like your interpretation a lot. But don’t leave out the woman, or the blanket, or the chicken. I’m tempted to suggest that the poet is General Tso, but he was really more of a deconstructionist, fond of slicing and dicing.

    dale – No worries. It’s a very anarchistic sort of kingdom, as I conceive of it. The clothes have no emperor.

  5. Is this the kingdom or a mockery of the kingdom we have received from the whoremonger academy, whose tender mercies have bound and gagged poetry? (I’m thinking of a comment you left some time ago in Teju’s still-secret garden.)

    It’s hard for me to conceive of you conceiving of poetry as a kingdom. On the other hand, maybe you have described a kingdom. Maybe the man represents self-consciousness in poetry — in writing, even — and the woman is something closer to pure act.

  6. Peter – This is the real thing, even if most of its inhabitants think they are someplace else. That’s the problem with poets, really — they’re always mooning about when they should be paying attention to what’s at hand.

    Maybe the man represents self-consciousness in poetry — in writing, even — and the woman is something closer to pure act.

    We do need both, don’t we?

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