The pure products of America go crazy . . .
      —William Carlos Williams
        Miss Smith, she dead.

      . . . my blind left eye don’t stop me
      I swivel quick around then get ahead
      back at the panorama
      striped down and then back up the hill
      to any future peak greened brown black cut through
      white striped like up the leg on a uniform
      the wind don’t wall me
      my aerodynamics
      they’d lift my license for my eye full of sugar
      but I still drink
      that VA doctor’s lower’n fish shit
      no beer no way
      but I drink Lite test my blood take my insulin
      I eat right mostly but my Drake’s cakes
      I’m thirty-three feet back
      sixty-six long times to here
      always dreamed of motorhoming
      free to be you and me
      Maxine’s you
      she sips at that beer
      stares through the wraparound
      like she’s watching home movies
      and shoots bytes at me like look there
      did you see that
      she’s frightened at being sixty next week
      I told her look at me—you plus six
      and I’m still steering
      still truckin’ but I never was a trucker
      was a kid a soldier a vet a cop and
      a guard at Disney’s that was my whole damned life
      that back there behind me on the road
      but it comes along with me in my sugar-eye
      my shotup shoulder from War Two
      my skin cancer from standing all those years in the sun
      reflecting off tarmac and parked cars at Disney World
      Max says look Jersey plates
      she says Joisey we started out in Jersey
      we fell in love haven’t slept together in years
      Max thinks I’m not well interested
      but it’s the sugar
      I don’t tell nobody not even her not especially her
      suppose she knew I couldn’t
      what kind of man would she think
      look she says back in back her mother sees it too
      I don’t know what it is must be on my blind side
      but I don’t say no way I let them know
      I’m blind as a blackboard over there
      not hurtling along at eighty
      they’d piss their beer
      you got to hold to your lane
      the old lady’s nearly ninety but full of it
      not only beer either if you know
      look Max says
      shut up Max but I don’t say it
      I don’t listen about Alabama moons
      Georgia peaches glorious Asheville leaves
      I talk to myself my only friend
      they suck me in like black holes
      the old lady and Max everything goes
      into them nothing out toward me
      did I believe in love
      I’ve stopped laughing even
      I’ve been driving too long
      I see us off the edge of a cliff if I don’t keep him awake
      old man hunched up at the wheel was he my hero
      I think there’s something wrong with his eyes now
      the way he jerks around to see I’ve noticed
      I ride not swiveled in a bucket by a tilted instrument pod
      but sometimes behind him astraddle his first Harley
      his long blond hair snapping in my eyes no helmets
      my fingers feeling in the deep holes
      through his shoulder and his ribs
      where the sniper’s bullet drilled through
      he died he said and came alive again on a table in England
      I still wore his white dress shirt
      hanging out over my rolled-up blue jeans
      shiny pennies in my loafers
      Frank Sinatra made me scream Elvis my one daughter
      Buddy’s blonde princess the Dead my grandson
      nobody sings anymore all back there somewhere
      with my mother boozed up at ninety
      a Depression-made cheapskate
      sipping cheap port
      and a hundred thousand in the bank
      how did we get here
      where are we going why must I come
      Harry could save me
      clever with life how left-handed he
      mangled his right hand in the leather machine
      made them think he was right-handed
      more compensation
      at last a little house and money in the bank
      and I got us out of Jersey
      like war in the project then
      the Sixties the long hot summers
      bullets through the windows
      down to Max and Buddy in Orlando to my little house
      Harry why must I travel with them
      the youngsters even are old but Harry’s gone
      crazy at the end
      fighting in the trenches again
      Argonne Belleau Wood
      gone on the road behind us
      dead and buried in Orlando
      buried and lost his grave lost
      we are going to sue
      I have no place to put flowers
      no place to talk to him anymore
      they lost my Harry
      tough leather guy from Brooklyn
      tough guy so sweet once
      poor old crazy man
      gone back to the trenches back to Pershing
      mustardgas and Belleau Wood
      another world so far away
      to his grave at ninety-five
      I don’t want cable
      only my one soap-opera station
      only my wine
      don’t even want life to come back
      what is the wind
      Star stories say some of us are aliens
      supermarket tabloids Maxine calls them
      and tries to make me think they print lies
      sometimes I think Buddy and maybe even Maxine too
      I bore her but maybe pod people have taken over her body
      like that old movie
      maybe she isn’t Maxine at all she doesn’t act like Maxine
      I could have a baby too
      like the hundred year old woman in Australia
      it would kill me at ninety they must eat something
      yogurt like those Russians who live forever aliens too
      and the little girl no older than smaller than
      who had quadruplets by a tom cat
      all of them born with whiskers
      the pictures were right there I saw them
      whiskers and pointed ears and long tails I saw them
      what is that going by where are they taking me
      “Good Housekeeping” said
      the kitchen was the warm womb
      of the colonial home and early-American women
      would stand at the hearth watching the turkey turn
      as they pumped up the flames
      packing sandwiches for an airline ain’t exactly
      the big time but we made it
      Buddy and I paid off the American dream
      for his bedroom and my bedroom
      and the alligators down on the lawn
      to the rock seawall wanting sun
      what’s life
      put the rocks back put
      back build up fall put back
      two slices Wonder Bread
      one slice waterpumped ham mayo mustard
      my long thin fingers all little silver scars
      I’m nobody what did I deserve
      not Buddy and my mother anyway
      sixty ain’t the end yet
      not even with all my loose belly skin and
      stupid strokefoot dragging when I’m tired
      like Buddy on Omaha Beach
      but I got it right through the head
      like being brain-shot and nine weeks in the hospital
      stealing our money
      there she is sipping her wine at ninety
      defying nature and three out of five of us kids with strokes
      always demanding maybe she gave us the strokes
      but nobody’s dead yet they say we are all lucky
      so that’s what luck is not being dead
      a case could be made
      driving into the dusk is like driving into a dream
      better hit the lights
      that big cluster of stars down there
      I aim my good eye on ahead
      now in the dusk it gets tricky
      but I don’t let Max know
      extreme macular degeneration
      sugar-induced doc says
      then he says you got varicose veins in your eye
      laser beams he says burn ’em out
      so I see blue for a week from the dye
      and the blue fades to gray and that’s it
      my credit’s good
      social security veteran’s pension Disney retirement
      I’m a triple dipper
      plus equity in the house poor boy makes good
      I’m driving fifty thousand dollars across America
      like I started out with anything but
      a piano-teaching widowed mother
      like I had a chance in life
      I play my own tapes me at the organ
      singing Willy Nelson songs
      “On the Road Again” Max hates my music
      she’s jealous but says I could of made a living
      at it could of but couldn’t take the joints
      composed some myself guitar piano organ
      my tape plays “King of the Road”
      my plates say NO MORTGAGE NO BOSS
      twenty years standing in the sun eating Twinkies skin cancer
      Harry thought Max could do better
      he never had a home like ours right on the gators’ water
      he’d say he never had alligators on his lawn either
      only stinkbugs in his old palm tree
      sometimes I miss fighting with him
      him on the Kaiser me on Hitler
      who was worse all ancient history
      even the Commies are dead
      nothing left for Freedom to fight
      and the world moves moves into the next century
      away from us what we did and needed
      it’ll all be computers and new people
      no more like us we’re dinosaurs
      old people but we move
      and we take our houses with us like hermit crabs
      we circle Asheville in leaves we land at Normandy
      not ten minutes in and all my bones break
      until I wake up on the table in England
      purple heart silver star
      I remember the sea swashing puffs of smoke
      our flag it still stands yesterday’s news who cares
      Max is sarcastic once she was proud
      I can’t help it Max
      it’s the sugar sugar
      . . . who betrayed me so many times with his Harley
      with somebody else’s legs around him
      fingers in his wounds
      hot stuff and joins the police
      to wear his beautiful blue uniform
      and ride his police cycle with his blond hair
      fluffed all around his blue visored hat
      and me pregnant alone with his blonde love in my stomach
      stud making a fool of his wife making a fool of his life
      with nogood burgling cops only Orlando left for us
      thank the chief who saved us and that was when I began
      when I began I began began to be old
      Maxine looks like me at sixty
      you could compare her to a picture of me then
      O Harry do you remember
      where are we
      North Carolina
      why are we here climbing this mountain
      full of beautiful leaves
      is that heaven up there what is that up there
      a jetstream
      a flying saucer
      why don’t we just stay home
      where I know where things are
      they don’t think about me how I can’t see
      how I wish Harry were here
      how he was when he was young
      so neat courtly so kind and sweet
      not like at the end afraid of the Hun
      hiding under the table gone crazy old man
      with old-timers disease
      it was all there again for him
      no time had happened
      no me no all that life all wiped out
      and he was there again and it made me wonder
      if we aren’t all just here or there or where are we
      Asheville we pack it in at Nashville
      Max and the old lady won’t go to the Grand Ole Opry
      so I’ll leave them to themselves
      I’ll go like I always said I would
      could hear it in Jersey when I was a kid
      could hear it all over the country
      Hank Williams Minnie Pearl Tex Ritter Hillbilly Heaven
      a southern yankee I never get enough of that wonderful stuff
      Max says we should of gone the other route
      to Memphis first Graceland Elvis can wait I say
      but it turns out to be Hank Williams Junior and Rockabilly
      not like I dreamed of it glitz and bang
      even a vet can yearn for the old sweetstuff
      Junior’s daddy the original Hank the real thing
      the lyrics were in a language I could understand
      we fought the wars and longed for love
      they march for peace and seem to hate
      like I’m still waiting for the fat lady to sing
      President Truman even introduced Kate
      Smith to the Queen
      as “America” Oh beautiful for spacious skies
      but the Opry’s like the rest of it now
      maybe we should try Dollyland at Pigeon Forge
      no Max wouldn’t like it because
      angels come to our door but Buddy won’t let them in
      do you know these are the last days
      not if you have something spiritual
      it’s on Earth
      he was sent by the God of Love
      that’s why Graceland is a church
      even if it’s like they say
      that his body ate twenty Big Macs a day
      his soul had to live on Earth didn’t it had to eat
      so Buddy’s blonde daughter tells me
      my daughter too but more his blonde like him
      now nearly bald not her him not dark like me
      well gray but if Elvis could bring happiness
      then he is a god
      he’s one of those aliens Max
      he was sent here to sing and bring love
      they say Graceland is more beautiful than Heaven
      that it’s all blue like the sky with no clouds
      no thunderbooms and tin-roof rain clatter
      where are we
      like when Buddy grinds his choppers
      he is eating us up in his sleep
      our night war like our day war cannibal
      shoved our beds apart into separate rooms
      trumpets saxophones trombones
      Buddy names my snoring while he grinds on
      and her crazy on the convertible back there
      all night coughs and chatters in her sleep
      about chicken wing prices
      it’s like a gone-nuts orchestra
      his teeth telling how much he hates his life
      at different times broken uppers and lowers
      life that never did what he wanted it to do
      we rocked that motorpark in Nashville
      hooked up Winnebago nearly laughed itself free
      electric lines tore out as it rolled over on its side
      and later shaking with screaming
      Mama and I had sucked the city of any last drop
      of Southern Comfort
      Buddy never came back from the Opry till it was dying out
      drunk himself from shit-kicking with urban cowboys
      I told him his sugar’ll kill him he sleeps grinding his life
      like steak into hamburger I’m his life
      what’s life
      Mama refuses to die until we do
      gray and stroked and sugared and beer’d under
      but how could we leave her at home who’d watch her
      nobody’ll take her in if we go she has to go
      won’t go to nursing home no way you know no how
      and I don’t mean not to go go go before I die
      thank GOD for Winnebagos
      next stopover next postcard
      P.S. life’s a war and you can’t give up
      love Max at sixty
      heaven is a place like Graceland
      they say Elvis’s daughter owns it now
      she’s the spitting image spitting image
      listen Max at least the foreigners don’t own Graceland
      like they do everything else
      it ain’t true that we don’t work as hard as the Japs
      but the unions Max I never did trust the unions
      you think like a scab-cop
      my father was a union man Buddy
      her father was a union man
      Harry was always a good union man
      and a good Democrat
      if they’re good for anything the aliens’ll be UNION
      if I didn’t belong to a union
      do you think they’d of paid me so much
      for making lousy sandwiches
      did you get enough sleep
      we should of gone to Graceland first
      read a “Reader’s Digest” article once
      first it was the farmlife held us to place
      then industry mills and trading and
      later the big factories up north
      made cities centers now no more
      anyone anywhere now the computers
      no more fixed life no more unions no more
      democrats no more stay put go go go
      like the damned beatniks hippies used to do
      on the road in the sky
      a whole corporation inside your portable
      computer workforce anywhere
      regions don’t mean nothing cities countries
      my country ’tis of thee
      I’m caught between the old lady back there
      and my grandson
      he’ll be part of it the brave new world he said
      college boy and his kids won’t even know
      what we were
      can’t you just see it grandpa
      no boundaries no borders
      even space the moon Mars
      business everywhere signals flying through the air
      caught between times becoming part of it
      losing it at the same time
      with my sugar walking down the street
      I never noticed how sweet beer is
      injections they’ll be able to fix that too grandpa
      and the whole world and even space
      will become AMERICA
      you look at your mother and you think
      how could I have come out of that sixty years ago
      it’s a chorus of whiskey-cracked voices
      a duo of dead and gone ghosts
      calling back over their shoulders
      it’s bye-bye Maxine you’re as good as dead
      with your mastectomied pumped-up plastic tits
      what’d you need them for for him
      could of caused the stroke I’m told
      but then why my brother and sister stroked out too
      my face I had burned with acid and scraped
      for him forty years ago
      acne pits from her tea and cheap day-old cake
      to stuff us just before supper all of us
      faces like burned-red moons
      from her brother-can-you-spare-a-dime
      cheap Depression soul
      the old man back from Belleau Wood
      mustard gas and the formaldehyde stink of the tannery
      the whole goddamned century’s been a war
      I could live to see the end of it
      no more goddamned Twentieth Century
      now we fight each other we can’t stop fighting
      we’re like three hairy-assed Marines
      landing on each other’s beaches
      Christ he kissed me breath like death blow out my candle
      if I could I’d blow them out of the Winnebago
      and get my wish a little time on earth alone a little life before I die
      Max was always tough even as a little girl
      she always fought
      her father’d have to drag her off
      from a fight but he was proud
      my Max don’t take no shit he said
      we had to be tough Jersey we all glow in the dark
      better than hard cold and cheap
      we had nothin’ but trouble like the plague
      Nineteen-Nineteen she says
      the doughboys brought the influenza back from Europe
      all those displaced persons
      my best girlfriend died of it everybody
      was dying you’re too young to know
      good to be too young for some things
      why do you think God does it
      screw that
      God helps them who help themselves Buddy
      he likes that one damned Republican
      but he’s right it’s like Elvis
      a success a blond guy with black hair and a cape
      God loves us all Max He’s sending them to help us
      well He’s got a damned funny way of showing it
      your granddaughter says He sent Elvis
      or is it Elvis sent her
      I told her he came in on a saucer
      they’ll all be here soon
      Buddy singing playing the organ he installed
      coming in on a wing and a prayer
      his feet pumping he loves to show off
      he says Harry was just a leather worker
      says my mother taught piano class will tell
      your people don’t have no class no way
      then it’s a Donnybrook
      in the musical world
      in heaven this couldn’t of happened
      if Max would spell me
      I’d go back and get drunk with the old lady
      sit in my Seat w/Telescoping Pedestal
      and stare at her until I could see inside her BRAIN
      but Max won’t spell me won’t drive no way no how
      just sucks in sixpacks and farts at speed bumps
      I’m mustard gassed like Harry at Belleau Wood
      turn on the BTU’s she says watch out
      open the vents here comes Max
      but she admits it was damned embarrassing
      we got the Arizona state troopers all over us
      here’s the old lady telling the pump jockey
      at our time of life we want full service telling him
      I have a lovely home in Orlando
      they’re forcing me to go with them
      they want my money a hundred thousand dollars
      it belongs to Harry he earned it with the wrong hand
      call the police help help
      it takes some explaining but I tell them me I’m an ex-cop
      look I say but they got me and Max over a car hood
      if I had one of those BIG FOOT trucks
      I’d drive right over top of this traffic jam
      crushing cars like an angry giant
      that’s why everybody loves Big Foot
      I look at the cops and twirl
      my finger in a circle at my temple
      nuts the both of them I say
      they feel sorry for me and because I’m an ex-cop
      get real Buddy do you think God’s in California
      or in the Painted Desert or the Petrified Forest
      I want to see the first Disney place is all
      Max is mad like Mel great roadman
      people say it’s the end of America
      from the coast there on it’s out forever
      and the sea climbs into the sky
      Buddy it’s your music
      sometimes you sound like some godawful poet
      song of the open road Max
      there’s good trucker songs Max
      trucker poets cowboy poets
      you’re ignorant Max
      don’t start Buddy don’t start
      I tell you what Buddy
      Vegas is God
      you get a bucketful of change and pull handles
      until something good happens
      gangsters built Vegas Max
      gangsters built everything Buddy
      Bugsy Siegel is God and Vegas is heaven
      for shame Maxine
      what do you know Mama
      it’s all a chance and to hell with your aliens
      can’t you see saucers Maxine
      clouds Mama we’re in the mountains
      Sierra Nevadas Mama
      I’m not your mother I’m hers maybe
      and the white bombs of love
      like the Star says it’s Elvis in his saucer
      lots of Elvises because this is the end of time
      they have big dark eyes and sideburns down to here
      real smooth cheeks and they wear wonderful jumpsuits
      with colors like Las Vegas that night
      the first or second so it was stacks of colors
      and everything blinking they wear clothes like that
      with glittery things hanging down from their sleeves
      I was a little girl when Dreamland burned down
      my mother your grandmother Maxine
      said you could see Dreamland burning from Jersey
      I had been to Coney Island I had been to Dreamland
      I’m sure I saw Vesuvius erupt and a great naval battle
      where New York was bombarded by foreign ships
      and then an American admiral went out
      and defeated all of them
      you see children it is all a dream
      and you keep waking up to something new
      we aren’t really here at all we are here
      and somewhere else at the same time in Dreamland
      Meet me tonight in Dreamland under the silvery moon
      my mother used to play that one Mama
      I am not your mother don’t call me Mama
      you’re alone in the world Harry never liked you
      motorcycle-head he called you
      Maxine’s got me if she is Maxine
      of course I’m Maxine
      Christ of course white bombs
      where are we Maxine
      if I smashed this pedal down down hill
      I saw a movie once about a wagon train full of people
      heading west on Donner tha’s it the Donner party
      they were going over these very mountains they were up here
      high like this and there was a blizzard and they got caught
      and they couldn’t get down out of it
      blizzard starved and they began to eat each other
      don’t look at me Buddy
      the saucers will save us
      they’ll snatch us up into Graceland
      they can do anything they can make us fly
      can they take us back to where they came from
      is it a musical place
      of course it’s a musical place
      Elvis is King
      yeah Graceland is the real true blue heaven
      beyond the cheap chicken wings of the world Mama
      beyond the world Maxine
      or whoever you are
      Buddy my ears just popped
      we’re climbing Max
      it’s getting dark Buddy
      you better stop
      can’t stop on the highway
      some articulated eighteenwheeler
      some BIG FOOT
      come behind us
      no visibility
      now I nail my one good eye
      to the white-dark wraparound
      like one big cataract
      faint red lights
      turning off ahead
      now nothing
      down there’s a turn
      somewhere down there
      I hit the gas down hard to the floor
      it’s dark and white like being wrapped in ermine
      if we weren’t doing eighty ninety a hundred
      it’s like a toboggan like the OLYMPICS
      SWOOSH SWOOSH and we’re out off in SPACE
      the cold moon and stars ahead
      and now it’s STAR TREK
      I can see through the thick clusters of stars
      ahead there deep
      but the saucers hold us floating in air
      you can see the lights
      I told them I told them
      E.M. Schorb’s Murderer’s Day, was awarded the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and published by Purdue University Press, and a subsequent collection, Time and Fevers, was the recipient of the Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Award for Poetry and also an Eric Hoffer Award.
      Other works include 50 Poems, Hill House New York; Words in Passing, The New Formalist Press; The Ideologues and Other Retrospec­tive Poems, Aldrich Press; Eclectica Americana, Hill House New York; Manhattan Spleen, Aldrich Press; Last Exit to East Hampton, Kelsay Books; and The Poor Boy, Dragon’s Teeth Press, Living Poets Series. The title poem, “The Poor Boy,” was awarded the International Keats Poetry Prize by London Literary Editions, Ltd., judged by Howard Sergeant.
      Schorb’s novel, Paradise Square, received the Grand Prize for Fiction from the International eBook Award Founda­tion at the Frankfurt Book Fair. A Portable Chaos was the First Prize Winner of the Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction. His latest novel, R&R, a Sex Comedy, has won the Beverly Hills Book Award for Humor. But Schorb maintains that he is first and foremost a poet, and his poetry has appeared in numerous publi­ca­tions, such as Agenda (UK), The American Scholar (US), Frank (FR), The Hudson Review (US), Stand (UK), Poetry Salzburg Review (AU), Queen’s Quarterly (CA), The Yale Review (US), and Oxford Poetry (UK), among others.

      CODA: THE GHOSTS GO HOME. A Poem by EM Schorb.

          O lost and by the wind grieved,
          ghost, come back again.
          —Thomas Wolfe

        . . . so this is luck says Maxine
        you can take your freaking luck and shove it
        Mama says it was the aliens who helped us
        hundreds of flying saucers piloted by
        Elvises in sequined pod suits
        they lifted us off the cliff
        I told you they would I told you
        she’s nuts Buddy we’re dead right now
        dead and floating away Max dispersing smoke
        and just when I thought I was going to heaven
        to God’s bright musical castle
        where I could play the organ
        play Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland
        for all the heavenly days of my death
        O.K. Buddy but what in hell do you think
        I’m travelling for
        we left the other goddamned Disney place
        three thousand miles back
        I want to get away from it all
        that’s my heaven
        every place is the same Max
        every place is Disneyland
        now don’t you start sniveling Mama
        but home is where the heart is
        my heart is with Harry in Orlando
        poor old Alzheimer man
        I loved him so much
        for God’s sake we got all freaking bummed out
        I sent a card back home to tell
        how you’ve acted you son-of-a-bitch you killed us
        and I think you did it on purpose
        you think you can drive through space now Buddy
        still steering Max
        what Mama
        you children are enough to drive me out of my mind
        but the National Star
        and the Pod People keep me sane
        look at all that space
        can you fly this thing Buddy
        an American G.I. can do anything he has to do Mama
        Buddy sometimes you remind me of Harry
        why thanks Mama
        doughboys is what we called G.I.s in my day
        like you he came back full of holes
        but gassed in Belleau Wood
        beautiful name to be so horrible
        I know I don’t tell you very much
        but now that I know we are all going to
        heaven together or somewhere
        well wherever the pod people take us
        I love you both
        we love you too Mama
        don’t we Max
        O.K. so all us suckers love each other
        just keep this smoke floating
        Mama I think Maxine is blubbering up
        crocodile tears Buddy she’s hard as a rock
        no Mama you should see her up here
        shut up Buddy
        she’s had too much beer
        no I think the crash is just now sinking in on me
        but I’m not going to stop drinking my Lite
        I don’t care if I’m dead
        you are dead Max we’re all dead
        Buddy are you sure you can fly are you
        does smoke rise up from a fire
        and finally vanish in the sky
        I keep on truckin’ like I always done Max
        through war and peace Mama
        our flag must still wave
        through hell and high water Max
        I could go on flying this big beautiful
        Winnebago with the eagle wing span of an
        Enola Gay forever across America
        back and forth across this great big
        God bless America country

        E.M. Schorb’s Murderer’s Day, was awarded the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and published by Purdue University Press, and a subsequent collection, Time and Fevers, was the recipient of the Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Award for Poetry and also an Eric Hoffer Award.
        Other works include 50 Poems, Hill House New York; Words in Passing, The New Formalist Press; The Ideologues and Other Retrospec­tive Poems, Aldrich Press; Eclectica Americana, Hill House New York; Manhattan Spleen, Aldrich Press; Last Exit to East Hampton, Kelsay Books; and The Poor Boy, Dragon’s Teeth Press, Living Poets Series. The title poem, “The Poor Boy,” was awarded the International Keats Poetry Prize by London Literary Editions, Ltd., judged by Howard Sergeant.
        Schorb’s novel, Paradise Square, received the Grand Prize for Fiction from the International eBook Award Founda­tion at the Frankfurt Book Fair. A Portable Chaos was the First Prize Winner of the Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction. His latest novel, R&R, a Sex Comedy, has won the Beverly Hills Book Award for Humor. But Schorb maintains that he is first and foremost a poet, and his poetry has appeared in numerous publi­ca­tions, such as Agenda (UK), The American Scholar (US), Frank (FR), The Hudson Review (US), Stand (UK), Poetry Salzburg Review (AU), Queen’s Quarterly (CA), The Yale Review (US), and Oxford Poetry (UK), among others.

        Life and Opinions of Doctor Bop the Burnt-Out Prof. A Poem by EM Schorb


        DOCTOR BOP


        I. Veni, Vidi, Vici
        My old man was a Moishe Kapoyr if you ever saw one.
        This can be proved by the fact that, when I was a kid,
        he thought I was a mazik and my brother wasn’t,
        but when we grew up and my brother joined the army
        and made a career of it, then he was a mazik
        and I wasn’t, being around the time of which
        I speak a college instructor, and I became a momzer.
        How do you figure? Well, my old man respected
        education, but, having very little, was jealous
        of those who had it. He claimed fluency in five
        languages, all of them Yiddish. “Polymath,”
        I said, and he said, “I learned to count on the streets
        of New York, making change from what I peddled.”
        Max was my full brother and, therefore, half Irish too.
        Talk about multicultural, we are it. The Irish
        side weren’t keen on religion, shame to say,
        so the old man had his way with us, and I guess
        he forgave God for us every Yom Kippur. My mother,
        a pliant woman, converted. My brother,
        who is the eldest, was born at St. Vincent’s
        in Greenwich Village, but I was born at Maimonides,
        which may suggest a few things I won’t go into.
        My brother took my mother’s Irish name into the army,
        where he remains, a Captain now, I think. A mazik?
        A career man in the army? And not a professor?
        My old man was a Moishe Kapoyr if you ever saw one.
        From such an unpromising background
        how do you get started as an academia
        nut, and end up having tenure? In those days,
        you join the army, of course,
        to get the G.I. Bill. 1947:
        over a million vets enroll
        in colleges under the G.I.
        Bill of Rights. Illinois
        wins Rose Bowl over U.C.L.A.
        45-14, and, in fashion,
        the “New Look” comes in,
        flat tops, long skirts.
        I’m way too young yet,
        not even Bar Mistva’d,
        but eventually I take advantage
        of my country’s liberal
        generosity, for which I thank
        the truly great Harry S.,
        et. al., and join up.
        The Korean armistice was signed
        at Panmunjom on July 27, 1953.
        Have I got mazel! I get the
        benefits without the pain.
        My old man, who was drafted in the
        Great War to end all wars,
        sat reading “The Jewish Daily Forward,”
        moving from Yiddish to English,
        back and forth, back and forth,
        learning. He said, “See, you did it again!”
        He was pissed because Max,
        my truly fabulous big brother,
        came home wounded and
        deciding to make a career of it,
        and I got a vacation in Japan
        and Hawaii and came home ready
        to “take advantage of the taxpayers,”
        like himself, the old batlan.
        He dies in a conniption fit in ’65,
        overweight and over Lyndon Johnson’s lies,
        joining my mother, an angel.
        When I was taking my masters at Columbia,
        my old man, the meshugge maven, said:
        “What do you care for a guy like that?
        You said he was a pirate once. I bet
        he would come and pull the pale and
        take the whole shtetl away with him.
        And then you say, Dean of St. Paul’s—
        what would he care for the likes of us?”
        “What do we care for the likes of us,”
        I said, “you even failed in the rag
        business, with eighteen relatives to help.”
        “I had no mazel. It’s you who’s had the luck.
        The grants and scholarships you’ve won!”
        “Hard work,” I said, “not luck.” “Not brains,”
        he said. “Your grandfather, he had brains.”
        “I suppose you mean the Rabbi not the Priest.”
        “Wise off, wise guy! A sober fur-cutter is better
        than a drunken bootlegger.” “So why not
        cut fur and get as rich as you?” I said.
        “I didn’t have the eyes for it,” he said.
        “You got the eyes for anything, and look at you:
        John Donne Takes a Holy Shit and Writes a Poem.
        Even your drunken Irish bootlegger grandpa
        would be royally pissed at that!”

        II. Grooves of Academe
        At the Modern Language Association,
        the trees are bending down and going bare, the halls
        are getting knee-deep in rusty leaves, and everyone
        is pointing a withered finger-stump at everyone else.
        The Burnt-Out Prof is a liberal, but God, a true one.
        This is one of the reasons that the Bop is burnt-out:
        He finds today an atmosphere of the Inner Circle
        of the old Kremlin, where “normal” means what anyone wants it to.
        It is like the old days when Political Correctness meant
        the Party line of the week, sometimes posted in “Pravda,”
        or telephoned to London, Paris, and New York, to
        prepare for diplomatic divagations, on the weekend.
        This week sexy is sexist, so I don’t know how to explain myself.
        I can tell you, it’s getting tough to say much of anything.
        1736: Patrick Henry was born. That was also the year
        that Fahrenheit died and Hogarth produced his “Good Samaritan.”
        None of these things seem to have had much “impact,”
        (now there’s a word that I would ban) and,
        while I wend my way through this historic traffic,
        toward an historic college that no longer
        recognizes history as a legitimate subject,
        I notice that the leaves are down and tumbling
        in the wind along the road to higher learning.

        Taking by storm the bastions of conditioned reflex,
        I sat down to reflect on the mystery of life,
        but found myself instead considering whether to refinance
        the old adobe of my dreams, now that the rates were lower.
        The school had found my house for me—the school’s my mother.
        I had a real mother but the school’s a better mother: Magna Mater.
        (One keeps thinking of Magna-Matergate, but so far so good.)
        Along the treelined drives . . . etc. Lateral thinking impinged,
        and before you could say, “Peter Piper picked,”
        I considered the deconstruction, not of all the texts in the school,
        but of the school itself, slate by slate and brick by brick.
        I could start at the highest point—was it the flagpole
        or the tower clock? In an augenblick a Hamlet’s confusion befell me.
        The other day I asked our professor of Medieval History a question
        only to learn that her expertness (or “tise”) was restricted
        to the period between when Constantine reigned alone
        and St. Vladimir became prince of Kiev, with everything else
        outside her field. To our professor of Medieval History
        the rest of life is a mystery
        ; no generalist, she. Life is not her field.
        The middle-aged scribes on the staff correct the English
        of the professors and fund-raisers alike, that no embarrassment
        befalls these ivied halls. They are made of substantial stuff,
        the staff, the grade- and high-school grads of yesteryear,
        like Hemingway and Faulkner.
        1899: John Dewey, “School and Society.” Tunc pro nunc.
        Another new building is going up on the green.

        I am Anarchus, King of Academe,
        tenured to bring chaos to your campus.
        I can say any goddam irresponsible fucking thing.
        I am a regular irrepressible intellectual Wild Bull of the Pampas.
        I’ll be your peripatetic in the feeble rain.
        I’ll corrupt you with my Socratic questions.
        When God commanded Hosea to associate with a whore,
        wasn’t that a command against the Decalogue?
        Aquinas said No, because in so commanding,
        the whore became Hosea’s wife.
        Everything fits, you see, Pangloss-like.
        Just when we think something has gone wrong
        it has come up right. How sure are you
        of anything? The skeleton of Cro-Magnon man
        was found in France in 1868.
        Who moved it, and from where? And why?
        In 1871, Adolf Nordenskjöld explored the interior
        of Greenland. There was no there there, as Gert Stein put it,
        but he did it because it was there, as Sir Edmund Hillary put it.
        Hath the rain a father? Where is love?
        Principles are never provable
        in the order which they substantiate,
        they are evident and intuitively given.
        That should be some help with regard to love.
        In 1805, Hosea Ballou wrote “A Treatise on Atonment.”
        Mobile perpetuum. You who are young
        will soon be old and walking with the young.
        The “Treatise” will await you in “La morgue littéraire.”
        Young Sirs, Bruno proclaimed the spatial and material infinity of
        the world.
        Ladies, Descartes attributed positive infinity only to God.
        Newton was cautious. Einstein certain. Planck confusing.
        Maybe we should just make love and listen to the music of the rain.

        When Chips left the Old School he wore its tie
        and was carried out with his Wellingtons on.
        But no way Mister Bop, the burnt-out prof.
        Things definitely ain’t what they used to be.
        Bop gets to retire on something like a 401(k);
        but not yet, as St. Augustine put it, not quite yet;
        I’m not ready for retired sainthood yet!
        The syllogisms from which Aristotle deduced the valid
        are not complete. In American institutions
        we fail upward to glory, and I expect
        to be the mad head of the English Department before
        I wallop my last tennis ball to cardiac arrest,
        or do my last imitation of Johnny Weissmuller.
        “Thanotopsis” is not my favorite poem.

        III. A Speed of Semesters
        “Coleridge did dope,” she said.
        “So one day, when he was socked out,
        dreaming up this poem about Xanadu,
        along came this person from Porlock
        on some business and shook him out of it.
        After about an hour he couldn’t remember
        anything but the first part of the poem.
        Has that ever happened to you? I mean,
        that poem of yours in the ‘American Scholar’
        seems unfinished, you know?” A very
        finished young lady, and this is what
        I get! I give them some Biographia
        , in a vague hope . . .
        “Fancy and imagination!” I roar,
        and point to someone else.
        “Fancy is only memory and produces
        only a sensational product.
        Imagination transcends time and
        makes contact with higher reality.”
        Something occurs to me: “No,
        I don’t do dope, and the poem
        is finished because it says
        what it started out to say
        in the way it started out to say it.”
        “I only meant, have you ever been
        interrupted when you were writing
        a poem, so that the unfinished part
        transcends and makes contact with
        a higher reality, like that one
        in the ‘American Scholar’?”
        And suddenly I realized how very quick
        she was, and nice, and pretty too.

        The Greeks measured Earth by its shadow on the moon.
        I measure it by travel, which always brings you home;
        therefore, Thomas Wolfe was wrong. Good news, though—
        Pascal was probably right. I’d be willing to bet on it.
        I had an uncle in the numbers racket, himself a gambler.
        Thoreau said, Time is a stream I go fishing in.
        Ford said, History is the bunk. Sumerian writing
        done on clay tablets, shows about 2000 pictographic signs.
        The moon is a bad woman because she is very romantic.
        We all know the trouble that can get you into. I
        am romantic tonight. How many leaves lay scattered?
        I guess millions, and I have a study that agrees with me.
        When you pay for a study, you get what you pay for.
        Therefore, all studies are romantic and have a dark side.
        Humankind pays for everything it gets. Theodora,
        the Byzantine empress, died in 548, one of a kind.
        Her death was a big relief to some of her subjects.
        Five years later disastrous earthquakes shook the entire world.
        I offer no comment, but think about it.
        The house I live in was built much later. I leave the
        actual count to you. Do not use a calculator.
        The first water-driven mechanical clock was
        constructed in Peking in 1090, the wrist watch
        around the turn of the twentieth century.
        I’ve got a digital that I can read in the dark.
        I can also read the chained and sailing moon from here.
        Shaw said, give him a slate and a piece of chalk
        and he’d give you the wrong answer in under five minutes.
        A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,
        so I lift my gouty foot and lean forward. Good counting!

        “Look at you,” said Müller,
        who taught psychology,
        and later committed suicide
        when implicated in war crimes.
        A vegetarian, he picked
        at his salad and eyed me
        with distaste. I was drinking
        a whiskey sour. “You have ashes
        down the front of your shirt.
        It is a dirty habit, smoking.
        And I see you always drinking
        in that cocktail bar by the
        lake. You must take better
        care of yourself, my friend.”
        “Worry is what kills you.
        I grade papers there. It’s
        very pleasant—a beautiful view,
        even in winter, when the lake looks
        like a bowl of liquid iron. You
        know, in 1496, Romano Pane,
        a monk who accompanied Columbus,
        became the first person to
        describe the tobacco plant
        to the old world. Tobacco
        was brought from America
        to Spain in 1555. In 1560,
        the tobacco plant was imported
        to Western Europe by Jean Nicot;
        hence, nicotine. It brought
        pleasure and pain, as all things do.”
        “How do you know such things
        —dates like that, I mean?”
        “I look them up. They’re
        comforting, definite.
        Very little is.” “You appear
        detached.” “Not detached.
        Perhaps transcendent. Sir
        John Hawkins introduced
        tobacco into England
        in 1565. That was the same
        year that pencils began
        to be manufactured there.
        Also, Sir Thomas Gresham
        founded the Royal Exchange
        in London, same year. And
        the Knights of St. John,
        under Jean de La Valette,
        defended Malta from the Turks.
        The Turkish siege was broken with
        the arrival of Spanish troops.”
        “What’s the difference?”
        “Exactly! Erskine Caldwell
        published Tobacco Road in 1932.
        Jack Kirkland’s play version
        of TR opened to a long run
        in New York in ’33. But
        at the end of the century
        I have to go outside to smoke,
        and the autumn wind blows
        the ashes all over me.”
        “I should like my ashes
        to be scattered over the lake,”
        Müller said. I lit another
        cigarette, watched the smoke
        scurry off in puffs and strands.
        “I’ll see to it,” I said.

        The true task is to trace the phenomena
        back to the hidden Logos, i.e., spirit and reason.
        The two ways of looking at this, though,
        cause trouble. Is God in or not in Nature?
        Have the monotheists got hold of the right end
        of the stick, or have the Hindus and Buddhists;
        are the Pantheists right or are the Christians?
        But infinity does not exclude its middle.
        God, however, can make an infinity.
        1941: Étienne Gilson: God and Philosophy;
        Reinhold Niebuhr: The Nature and Destiny
        of Man
        ; and Bergson died. I played war
        at my grandmother’s house in New Jersey.
        On July 16th, the first atomic bomb
        was detonated near Alamogordo, N.M.
        On August 6th and August 9th, the U.S.
        dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and
        Nagasaki. On her back porch, my grandmother
        told me that no one would be able to live
        in those cities for a hundred years to come.
        Nine years later I was there. The thousand-
        year Reich had lasted twelve years. The Logos
        is deeply hidden. Near the end of the war, bebop
        came in. People would sit along a bar and move
        their heads side to side, idiotically. The modern
        school believes we must assert nothing
        but “essence” and “meaning.” I read
        Kon-Tiki on the ship that took me to Japan.
        Heyerdahl believed in the probable colonization
        of Polynesia from South America around 1100.
        I remember reading and looking at the water,
        reading and looking at the water.

        You know how it is when you feel sure
        of something, maybe a date,
        or a fact of some kind,
        and then you find out that you were wrong
        and you feel like your brain’s
        turned into camel-shit and got
        spread across the Sahara, well,
        I made a bet with a faculty member
        that I knew the exact date,
        there and then, and where and when,
        of the invention of the thermometer.
        The faculty member teaches pre-
        med, and we were at a table
        in the school cafeteria. She shoves
        a five-dollar bill out, and triumphantly
        I assert: Santorio Santorio
        measured human temperature
        with a thermometer in Italy in 1628.
        “But he did not invent the thermometer,”
        she says, and picks up her five-spot.
        “Fahrenheit initiated mercury as a heat-
        measuring medium. R.A.F. de Reaumur
        used alcohol. And then there was
        Celsius.” I had got a hold of
        the wrong end of the thermometer, and
        out dropped my brain from one camel’s ass,
        stepped on by the big hoofs of the next, and
        dragged across the desert by the caravan.
        I should have learned a long time ago
        about never being entirely certain
        of anything. God may not play tricks,
        as Einstein insisted, but life does,
        with a little help from human
        arrogance, of the kind I displayed,
        and the endless capacity of the
        human mind to misconceive and
        misperceive, and the plain simple
        strangeness of life itself, and
        that must be the case. Maybe.

        Is the peripatetic part of the meaningless goo
        this autumn that is being trounced by the rain,
        one with the fallen beaten leaves? Camus
        and Sartre would insist on seizing pain
        by the throat and giving it a throttle,
        being that we are all alone with it
        like a drunk in a rented room with a bottle
        and not a ’toon in which to spit.
        Up to us, they would say, to do something about it,
        be a “Renegade” or find “No Exit”
        or become one’s own kind of Mister Fix-it,
        but of its ultimate use, I doubt it,
        doubt we can do it alone,
        doubt it to the bone.

        IV. Sabbatical
        If the word of the creator is itself creation,
        as in “Let there be light,” and since the birth of the world
        is linked to the birth of the word, isn’t it so
        that the essence of language is in the spirit, the Logos?
        Then the rants of the mad and the speakers in tongues
        are holy and creative rants and speakers and poets
        of portmanteau words and nonsense rhymes are makers
        of the solidly new and true, and are meant to be translated,
        paraphrased or whatever can be done to understand them.
        I have the distinct honor to know several people who are mad
        and who do not mind sitting across from me and spewing
        out their hearts and minds. 1533: First lunatic asylums
        (without medical attention). Freud taught us to listen.
        But we know now that schizophrenia is a kind of brain rot,
        an actual physical condition, and is already treatable
        with chemicals. Listening would not have helped the insane;
        but it might have helped the sane, if they were able to interpret,
        for the words were palpable. My friend shouts, “Mother ate me!”
        and I get his drift; “Father buried me alive,” and I dig.
        “It isn’t the dream but the words you use to describe the dream,”
        wrote Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900. Blake:
        “The lost traveller’s dream under the hill.”
        I myself dreamed of being in a long queue behind Princess Di.
        I suppose everything is in there—royalty, sex, and death.

        Shall we become public figures,
        sharing the thin metaphorical blood of fraternity?
        Shall we be the Family of Man (and Woman, of course)
        or shall we be a flesh and blood family
        at war and peace with ourselves and the State?
        We can’t love what we don’t know.
        We are asked to stretch fraternity’s blood
        until we become anemic, pale pretenders
        to emotion, vampires of passion.
        It is paradox. If I keep my brother,
        I become his keeper, and he the kept,
        not free, not equal, not his own.
        And if I turn in surrender to my vision,
        I must master others, keep my brother,
        and I must rob him of his vision
        as my vision dominates his, oh Abel!
        If I lead, he must follow whither.
        He must wither following. He must say:
        But where is my vision of home and hearth,
        where wife, where blood-rich children?
        If his children are my children,
        where are his children?
        Is my avuncular blood as rich
        as that of his and his wife’s?
        Fraternity’s blood runs thin and thinner
        until it is water and we are bound by water
        alone, ice water, not the sticky rich blood
        of consanguinity, the stuff of passionate caring.
        Would a watery world be better?
        Remember how many vows have been broken.
        Remember the blood oaths of children,
        your blood-brothers and -sisters who are
        gone with your childhood, how each
        cut a finger enough for blood and
        stuck them together, and how gone
        is an event where you can only recall
        what you did and not with whom
        in a dark corner of the Kabbalah.

        If you stop to think about it,
        the twenty-six point-whatever miles back from Marathon
        never did anyone much good. I used to believe
        what Santayana said, but the generations are too far apart,
        and one lost one will put us back to square one again.
        I live near the second largest artificial lake in America,
        and all my less sedentary colleagues are boaters and campers,
        and they are always trying to get me into a boat or a camp;
        but when I was young I spent a lot of time on ships and boats
        and beaches, like Ulysses, and I tell them a cocktail bar
        is the most civilized place on Earth. You go in and sit down
        and order a Gibson, light up, and wait
        for some intelligent conversation to break out.
        Of course you are costing the public a fortune because none of this
        is good for your health—it obviously killed George Burns, at
        age 100, before his time—but I’m with the Sun King and his
        “Après moi, le déluge.” I’m a sort of professorial sociopath,
        I guess, always thinking that if I have one life to live
        I’ll live it my way—so I go over and plug “My Way” on the jukebox.
        I hope I’m a bad influence on my students, just like Sinatra and Socrates, and I intend to spend the rest of my life as a Clairol blond,
        asking plenty of pointless questions of the vacuous sky.

        1913: The Armory Show introduced cubism to New York.
        The Nude Descending a Staircase left us exhausted.
        Her energy was obvious but we were drained by her élan.
        In 1918 we lay there smoking and wondering who had been super.
        In 1929 we lost faith in money, in ’42 safety.
        And now the last securities and guarantees have disappeared.
        Living with the bomb has made tragedy impossible.
        “Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Live with the Bomb,”
        is a comedy. No deliberate war was possible,
        because leaders were targeted and are cowardly,
        but accidents are inevitable. The little girl picking flowers
        in Lyndon Johnson’s ad, 1964: then his big lie.
        The cup of our political faith became a sieve, too. Johnson had
        done for American politics what Planck did for particle stability.
        I can only understand myself in my hereness now.
        I step forth in fact but my whereness is a mystery.
        I wait outside the seasons for a cue.

        V. Commence Fire!
        The question of the truly real
        has metastasized in me,
        like the spread ambition of a runner
        whose toes are fat with it.
        The central emotional tumor
        of desire to know what is behind the
        screen of existence is devouring me.
        It has reached Faustian proportions with
        increasing age. Sometimes I must dull
        the ache of it with booze and music,
        sometimes with what comedy I can find
        in the happenings around me. Calling
        life a game is a withdrawal symptom,
        a relief from the wracked nerves of wonder,
        by which I have been attended since I was a child:
        wonder and wondering. I could get sick
        with it, when young, and did. The doctors
        wondered too, and my poor father paid them.
        It’s a kind of ontological hypochondria,
        which has turned me, slowly, but ever so surely,
        into an intellectual valetudinarian.
        A poem is a posit, an assertion, an act,
        and in action we forget fear: respite
        in creation, the maker takes a stand, in making,
        but is it a stand no better than gimmick-makers make?
        Well, poetry possesses the virtue of being a record,
        at least, and you can date a poem, if you wish,
        thus giving it the merit of a worldly fact
        contained in a system of time, which, admittedly,
        is a system which is perhaps pseudo-fact itself,
        or will become so as matter completes its withdrawal
        upon itself to revisit its beginnings in a black hole in space;
        and yet, until then, something like a fact,
        a fact in the sense that Sherlock Holmes is almost real
        and lives in Baker Street in a fictional series
        in a real world that may exist only in a dream
        that is being dreamed elsewhere, perhaps—dare I say—
        by Yahweh; and so poetry becomes an actual little stab
        and, poets hope, rip in the black sheet
        that covers the deserted, haunted mansion.

        If you expect happiness you get misery,
        but just when you learn to live with misery
        the cat comes back and wants to be fed,
        so you feed the cat and that makes you feel better.
        Expressionists always bring the problem of death forward,
        demanding an “authentic death,” an act of dying
        that is peculiarly one’s own (as in Rilke:
        Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge).
        What good does it do to say that you are an expressionist
        or for that matter an existentialist, or any ist?
        “Poetry is of graver import than history,” said Aristotle.
        Why? Because good poetry doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t try
        to tell anyone else what to do. True, Yeats made a system,
        and Blake before him, but they did it for scaffolding,
        to shoot darts of insight from and toward, not
        to believe in, not to insist upon—monkeybars
        to climb in and to swing through. If you expect
        happiness you get misery, but then the cat will come home,
        expecting to be fed, and that makes you feel much better.

        2300 folding chairs on the lawn,
        relatives with an actuarial average
        of 30 years left in them,
        fathers less, mothers more,
        and grandmothers more than ever
        (I hasten to add, non-smokers
        more than anyone), myself
        hot on a warm June day:
        commencement socializing:
        1888: Lover’s Leap and
        Hold-Me-Tight buggies: today
        expensive sports cars
        for the kids, up to limousines for
        the relatives. The campus
        is crowded with vehicles, gleaming
        colors abound: chauffeurs
        stand in clusters of uniforms, smoking.
        I envy them. Grads with an actuarial life
        of 50 years ahead of them,
        maybe 60, sweat with heat
        and excitement, caps and gowns,
        and in anticipation of booze,
        dancing, prancing, and romancing
        tonight: but first, ROTC
        commissioning, Baccalaureate
        Service, Supper with the
        school President and his wife
        (parents and their students are urged
        to remain on campus for Supper),
        Open Houses, faculty and staff
        homes, a concert by the college choir,
        a Jazz ensemble. There won’t be a
        hotel or motel room empty
        for a radius of 50 miles.
        I scan young faces in the hope
        that some of them know
        the difference between fancy
        and the imagination,
        between a Baccalaureate and
        a Bacchanalia, between
        an apposable behind and
        a prehensile tail, etc.
        Orator fit, poeta nascitur.
        Poeta nascitur, non fit.

        I’m halfway into the wrong racket.
        I’m quitting school to write:
        retiring from the fray,
        I’ll go to Innisfree.
        Bon voyage, and
        vaya con Dios, my darlings!

        E. M. Schorb attended New York University, where he fell in with a group of actors and became a professional actor. During this time, he attended several top-ranking drama schools, which led to industrial films and eventually into sales and business. He has remained in business on and off ever since, but started writing poetry when he was a teenager and has never stopped. His collection, Time and Fevers, was a 2007 recipient of an Eric Hoffer Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing and also won the “Writer’s Digest” Award for Self-Published Books in Poetry. An earlier collection, Murderer’s Day, was awarded the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and published by Purdue University Press. Other collections include Reflections in a Doubtful I, The Ideologues, The Journey, Manhattan Spleen: Prose Poems, 50 Poems, and The Poor Boy and Other Poems.
        Schorb’s work has appeared widely in such journals as The Yale Review, The Southern Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Chicago Review, The Sewanee Review, The American Scholar, and The Hudson Review.

        At the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2000, his novel, Paradise Square, was the winner of the Grand Prize for fiction from the International eBook Award Foundation, and later, A Portable Chaos won the Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction in 2004.

        Schorb has received fellowships from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the North Carolina Arts Council; grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, the Carnegie Fund, Robert Rauschenberg & Change, Inc. (for drawings), and The Dramatists Guild, among others. He is a member of the Academy of American Poets, and the Poetry Society of America.
        BY E.M. SCHORB
        Books available at
        Dates and Dreams, Writer’s Digest International Self-
        Published Book Award for Poetry, First Prize
        Paradise Square, International eBook Award
        Foundation, Grand Prize, Fiction, Frankfurt Book Fair
        A Portable Chaos, The Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction,
        First Prize
        Murderer’s Day, Verna Emery Poetry Prize, Purdue
        University Press

        Time and Fevers, The Eric Hoffer Award for Poetry
        and Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book
        Award for Poetry, each First Prize
         Author Robin Ouzman Hislop Robin Ouzman Hislop


        EM Schorb Reviews Cartoon Molecules Collected Poems by Robin Ouzman Hislop

        Cartoon Molecules is divided into six stoas, or porticos where, safe from the inclement weather of the outer world, the poet, thinking cap on, can walk like the peripatetic philosophers of ancient Greece, his readers following him about, absorbing the wisdom he is imparting, and occasionally, though sometimes without full comprehension, repeating it like rhapsodes. In short, the organization of the book invites one in, each stoa like a carnival tent, magical and intriguing to the starry-eyed reader. One pulls a flap and wonders, “What’s in here?” and is never disappointed. But at the same time. the ultimate subject of Mister Hislop’s extraordinary book is so large, so kaleidoscopic, that, in this reader’s opinion, to do it justice requires much more than a review. Like Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, it should have a skeleton key (as by Campbell and Robinson); like the universe, it should have a space traveller who can explore its endless depths. But don’t get me wrong. We get more than enough of magic and beauty when we just get some of it—like beautiful, unknowable life.
        Take this sampler, a favorite of mine:
        Dream of the machine
        At the top of the stairs, perhaps she’s a person
        in three persons traffic in her hair hums
        life and intelligence a person
        a fixed stair with a parading universe
        machine intelligence a person
        a ballooning moon
        a universe in entelechy a person
        or is she a simulation
        a cartoon molecule in the dream of the machine
        as long as she’s prisoner of an unknown
        perhaps she’s a simulation
        finite limits in a false eternity
        voice of a world collapsing endlessly
        a frozen world with only leaning things
        lapsing crumbling without memory
        a world at an end in frosted shadows that ride
        in their depths a wilderness
        could a machine swallow a universe
        or a universe swallow a machine
        at the top of the stairs the locusts come
        in her hair the simulacrum
        In this work Mister Hislop reaches for the ends of being and, I suppose, though he may not think it, ideal grace. Deep in this Hislop-simulated universe of the cartoon molecule that dances its jig throughout his space-time continuum, he searches, as in “Dream of the machine,” for what might be called electronic love. He sings the body electric at the top of the stairs. Who is she? What is she? Machine or woman; or some combination of the two? Is it possible for the reader to think of it/her as Grace, or at least, as “grace”? Mister Hislop seems to think of it/her both ways; but then, isn’t it pretty well accepted that there are multiple universes? Perhaps in one universe she is the one thing, and in another, another.

            Is all that we see or seem
            But a dream within a dream?

          Aside from the centuries, Mister Poe and Mister Hislop are not so far apart, and, do you know, despite the objections that I expect from almost everyone, possibly including Mister Hislop, I say the two poets are partners in the exploration of the Universe. “Eureka,” cried Archimedes; Eureka, wrote Mister Poe; Eureka! Mister Hislop, fare thee well, as you explore the world of deep space.

 Author Robin Ouzman Hislop
 Robin Ouzman Hislop


          E.M. Schorb


          BY E.M. SCHORB
          Books available at

          Dates and Dreams, Writer’s Digest International Self-
          Published Book Award for Poetry, First Prize
          Paradise Square, International eBook Award
          Foundation, Grand Prize, Fiction, Frankfurt Book Fair
          A Portable Chaos, The Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction,
          First Prize
          Murderer’s Day, Verna Emery Poetry Prize, Purdue
          University Press
          Time and Fevers, The Eric Hoffer Award for Poetry
          and Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book
          Award for Poetry, each First Prize