“A Poem” by Ace Backwords

I’ve dabbled in a bunch of different artistic mediums over the years. But I just realized, to my chagrin, that I’ve never written a poem. A glaring omission in my body of work. So I’m rectifying that right now!

A Poem

by Ace Backwords

i guess a poem
is like any other form of writing
only you don’t have to adhere to the traditional laws of grammar

for example
i’m not capitalizing my words
and no periods

poetry is probably the easiest medium
to produce
a
piece of work
i mean
if i wanted to create a film
or record an album of music
it would take a lot of work
simply to produce something
that on the surface
looked like an actual film or an actual album

but this poem i’ve just hacked out
looks like every other immortal poem
written over the immortal years

and who’s to say I didn’t express
my
-soul-
any more or less
than any of the other great immortal poets
e.e. cummings
or
g.g. goings
or
Rod McKuen

(like you have a meter
to tell how much “soul”
I’ve expressed
in this particular poem
sure)

you don’t even have to rhyme the words

I think that I shall never see
a thing as lovely as Ace B

you don’t even have to come up with a punchline
which is a requirement
for a more exacting
artistic
medium
like, say, doing a comic strip

shit
if I had any sense
I would have spent
the last 40 years
writing poetry
they’re pretty easy
to produce

.

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Charles Bukowski and John Martin

One of the oddest collaborations in the history of literature is Charles Bukowski and John Martin.  Martin had never published anything in his life.  But in 1965 he became so enamored with Bukowski’s poetry (which at the time were only published in obscure chapbooks with print-runs of about 100 copies) that he told Bukowski:  “I’ll pay you $100 a month for the rest of your life if you quit your job and write full-time.”

Even odder, John Martin was a straight-laced Christian Scientist and a tea-totaler who never drank.  And here he is publishing Charles Bukowski, the patron saint of Skid Row drunks.

You could say it was a successful collaboration.  Eventually, Martin would be paying Bukowski $20,000 every month.

Bukowski was a compulsive writer; a man who had a powerful need to write.  “Writing saved my ass,” he’d often say.  Anyways, for whatever reason, John Martin got it in his mind that he wanted to publish Bukowski.  So he made arrangements to meet Bukowski in person at his hovel so they could discuss matters.  “Do you have any new poems I could publish?” asked Martin.

“Yeah,” said Bukowski.  “Look in the closet.

Martin opened the closet door and was dumb-founded to find that the entire closet was full of poems. Stacks and stacks of paper piled practically to the ceiling.  Martin scooped up a bunch of them and started publishing them.  And they never looked back.

Bukowski used to like to sit at the type-writer every night, drinking red wine, listening to classical music on the radio and writing poetry.  “It’s the best party in town,” said Bukowski.

When he finished a new batch of poems he’d send them off to Martin, his editor-publisher.  Martin would go through the poems.  They’d usually start out really good, and then get better and better.  Until they’d start to trail off.  Bukowski would just be babbling gibberish.  Writing just to write without really having anything to say.  Probably those poems were from the end of the night when Bukowski was too drunk to make sense.  Martin wouldn’t print those poems.

Bukowski never asked Martin about that.  He just sent the poems to Martin and let him pick whatever he felt like publishing.  The whole thing seemed to work out pretty well.

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