Wake-Up Call

“Shoulda,” “coulda,” “woulda” and “whatever”
Are telltales that evince velleity
In speakers who most probably will never
Instantiate authentic seity.

For every post-millenial young snowflake
There is a vital task that must be done,
But if it’s harder than a piece of sponge cake,
You’ll hear those babies cry, “This isn’t fun!”

Although our hearts might have us spend compassion
On these insufferable anemic morons,
It’s better to encourage them to fashion
Their own way out by harnessing their neurons.

 

 

Art Less Long than Life

When trying circumstances so require,
Hypnotic tunes are fingered from the strings
Of Orpheus’s prepossessing lyre;
And when the parlous Siren chorus sings,

A man must either plug his ears with wax
Or break on rocky shoals.
_________________Millennia
Have passed, and masters of the tenor sax
Enthrall the drowsing souls of many a

Sedated devotee of modern jazz,
While folks with rather different demographics
Deem country music as compelling as
It gets. The ancient Greeks bequeathed us Sapphics,

A fixed stanzaic form enjoyed today
By poets who are predisposed to care
What long-interred composers had to say
And how they said it. We are well aware

That future generations will, in turn,
Expect a legacy of worthy art
To be on hand when they take pains to learn
What went before, though hope will soon depart,

And we’d have ample cause to be ashamed,
If all that they receive from us is Rap.
Artistes of many genres may be blamed
For having authored reams of utter crap.

first published in Poetry Salzburg Review

 

 

C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden.  Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India.  His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press.


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19 Responses

  1. Mike Bryant

    “Wake-Up Call” certainly hits the mark with absolutely perfect meter and rhyme as always. Unfortunately no snowflake is likely to understand it even if they took the time to read it.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I’m glad you feel that way, Mike. Some people complain about perfect meter.

      Reply
  2. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    A valuable lesson in form, as ever – thank you. I especially like Art Less Long than Life: a sad-but-true, highly entertaining poetic observation. The closing punchline is a master stroke that had me laughing out loud.

    I appreciate poetry that makes a serious point with humor and there’s a lot to appreciate here.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      What many people do not realize, Susan, is that the person who is often regarded as the greatest rapper is a white dude who calls himself Eminem.

      Reply
  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    “Instantiate authentic seity” has got to be one of the coolest ironic lines I’ve ever read.

    I teach these millennial snowflakes every day. It’s quite true — they won’t do a thing if it isn’t “fun,” and they’ll whine and bitch when you tell them it’s a requirement.

    If this piss-poor generation is all we have to depend upon, the enemy will walk all over us in the next war.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I’m glad you liked that line, Joe. I was happy with it too, and glad that it worked out scansion-wise.

      Reply
  4. Rod

    Very well crafted C.B. and absolutely right on the money. Your last verse especially so – in fact it’s so accurate it had me in hysterics! Nice one

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I’m glad you laughed, Rod. It’s more than possible that it might have caused you to cry.

      Reply
  5. David Paul Behrens

    Your poetry quite often requires me, as a reader, to make use of a dictionary in order to fully understand some of the words you are using. It increases my vocabulary. Thank you, C.B.

    It reminds me of a time, in the early seventies, when I used to hang out in the main reading room at the New York Public Library, next to Bryant Park, and made full use of their community dictionary to look up words I could not understand in the books I was reading.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I like words a lot, D.P. I always keep two good dictionaries close at hand, and I am wont to make lists of newly discovered words.

      Reply
  6. David Watt

    The first stanza of “Wake-Up Call” grabbed my attention immediately, as it seems to typify the amalgam of rich language and acerbic wit that you often present.
    The final stanza of “Art Less Long than Life”- well that made me laugh!

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      As you might be aware, David, the title of the second poem is derived from a rather famous Latin phrase: Ars longum, vita brevis.

      Reply
  7. Monty

    I see what you’ve saying about Rap, CB; but it should be noted that there’s a vast difference between American and non-American Rap. Unfortunately, geography dictates that the only Rap most Americans know is American Rap, which I (as you seem to do) personally find to be, for the most part, detestable. It’s lyrically one-dimensional: guns an’ gangs, etc . . and it’s generally false. False art! The reason being.. many of these so-called rappers are just suburban teens fresh out of college: wannabe gangsters trying to portray back-street life, when most of ‘em have never (will never) been down a ‘real’ back-street in their lives! They’re trying to depict things of which they’ve no first-hand knowledge . . they haven’t lived it. And their videos are generally no less predictable: inanely displaying expensive cars, new clothes, bling, and scantily-clad girls. It’s all false; and the first ones to notice the falsity are the folk who HAVE grown-up in the very environment which the wannabes are trying to portray. THEY know when the lyrics are real and when they’re not. So, if it’s false, how can it be called art? Hence, I concur with your description: “utter crap”.. and I fully empathise with your concern about Rap being bequeathed to future generations.

    But a lot of European Rap (I can only speak personally of French and British, ‘coz they’re the only two languages I speak) seems to’ve retained the original ethos of the genre: a platform for the least-privileged to raise genuine issues such as social conditions, injustices, corrupt establishments, environmental concerns, etc (which is how it originally began in America for a few years in the late 70’s, until record-companies started to see the dollar-signs). I once read that ‘the duty of an artist is to reflect their own environment’.. and, in the main, that’s what European rappers seem to do. They’ve actually grown-up and live in the same environment which they’re portraying in their songs; their lyrics pertain to real issues and concerns (much like the protest-songs from the 60’s); and their videos are generally simply shot, with the artists just stood around in their own nitty-gritty neighbourhoods, probably wearing the same clothes that they would’ve worn that day if there was NO video-shoot. Outwardly, everything’s just so understated, but the lyrics are hard-hitting, fierce, and truthful. The artists don’t care how you see them, or what you think of them, they just want you to hear what they’ve gotta say. That is art . . they’re simply reflecting their environment.

    So in that sense, CB, Rap is still a vital genre on this side of the pond, in some cases the ONLY genre available for certain classes in the community to voice their feelings. But on your side, it stopped being an important genre around the late 80’s, when it was swallowed-up by the mainstream to become just another contributor to Uncle Sam’s piggy-bank. It could never be taken seriously again (apart from one notable exception: Eminem.. who’s unpredictable rise to stardom was a result of his rare position: A genuine, born-to-be Rap-artist who’d actually grown-up in real back-streets (Detroit), within the epitome of domestic dysfunctionality. All the unflinching words he wrote . . he’d lived them; that’s why the ‘people’ related to him).

    So, it may be the case that current generations of Europeans would be less concerned than Americans in bequeathing Rap to future generations, ‘coz European Rap’s still got meaning and substance. Of all genres of music, Rap is certainly not amongst my favourites (out of the 800-odd CD’s in my lounge, only 4 of them are by Rap artists); and it’s certainly not the genre that I personally would bequeath to future generations . . but I respect and appreciate its importance as a musical genre, and as street-art.

    p.s. I’ve nearly finished ‘Blue Yonder’ (maybe five pages left).. and I haven’t been disappointed.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I was not aware, Monty, that there was a European version of Rap. But I do know that, as many of those earlier performers have complained, that Rap has roots in Hip-Hop. Nowadays Hip-Hop mostly describes a style of dance that grew up around this type of performance, and I can say that it’s a lot of fun to watch.

      And I’m glad that you don’t feel you wasted your money on my book.

      Reply
      • Monty

        It’s not a “version” of Rap in Europe, CB: it’s Rap. There’s only one Rap. It first took hold in Britain not long after it did in the States (within a year or two). Caribbean folk have got a style of singing called ‘toasting’, which is like a primitive form of rapping; and when they started immigrating to Britain in the 50’s an’ 60’s, British street-kids eventually picked-up on toasting in the 70’s. By the end of that decade, Grandmaster Flash’s stuff was starting to filter through from the Bronx to Britain; elements of which the kids started to fuse with toasting . . . and that fusion is what got Britain rapping. As more American hip-hop started to cross the Atlantic in the 80’s, the lines became slightly blurred between Rap and Hip-Hop.

        In the early 90’s, Rap started to filter from Britain into central Europe; and eventually the whole of Europe. And now, owing to the internet, Rap today is a truly global genre. Even in primitive, third-world countries such as Nepal (with which I’m intimately familiar; indeed where I am now), many teens will listen to nothing except Rap and Grunge (or Metal, whatever it’s called); and they’re forming bands of those genres. And when I sometimes speak to them about it, they know everything.. the history, the pioneers, the big names of today. I’m 56, and there must be thousands of teenagers in Nepal who know more about Rap as a whole than I’ll ever know.

        p.s. I finally finished ‘Blue Yonder’ yesterday. I shall take it back to France with me next month, where it’ll sit worthily on the shelves with all my other poetry books. I hope you’re proud of yourself, CB: what an accomplishment it is to have a collection of poetry in book-form – a real, physical book with real pages – available for any human on the planet to buy and read (Amazon permitting, of course). One question, which you ain’t obliged to answer: Did you yourself pay for the book to be printed . . or did White Violet Press pay for it?

      • Monty

        . . . one more thing, CB: out of all the poems of yours that I’ve seen here at SCP (maybe into three figures), I didn’t notice any of those same poems in the book; which would indicate that you must have hundreds tucked-away . . is that right?

  8. C.B. Anderson

    Monty,

    To answer your questions in order:

    White Violet Press is not a vanity press. Aside from an initial $10 reading fee, my only financial outlay was what I paid in order to obtain eighty hard copies of the book at a substantial discount from the nominal retail price. The idea was that I could then either sell them or give them to friends and acquaintances. And you should note that my second book (Roots in the Sky, Boots on the Ground (which was reviewed at SCP by James Sale)) is also available from Amazon. I should apologize in advance that there are a number of poems in this volume with religious themes, a few of them somewhat devotional, but most of them decidedly heretical. My understanding, from things you have written previously, is that religion is not your cup of tea. It’s not mine either — tea is my cup of tea — but nonetheless I am a theist by disposition.

    Reply
  9. C.B. Anderson

    Monty,

    To answer your last question:

    MORTAL SOUP … is a collation of poems mostly written before my engagement with the SCP. And although I do indeed have hundreds of poems “tucked away,” many of them would better never see the light of day. Opinions vary, of course, and I have carefully been releasing some of my old stuff into the public arena, with mixed success. I suggest that, with Evan Mantyk’s acquiescence & assistance, we exchange e-addresses so that we might communicate on a more direct basis about things unfit for public consumption.

    Reply
    • Monty

      Well, that sounds like an exciting genre, CB. Of course we have general genres such as protest-poetry, war-poetry, humorous poetry, etc: but ‘unfit for public consumption’-poetry? That sounds right up my street. Needless to say, Mr Mantyk has my fullest permission to divulge the necessary information.

      Reply

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