Craig Kurtz resides at Twin Oaks Intentional Community where he writes poetry while simultaneously surviving the dream. Recent work has appeared in Aerie Literary Journal, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Burningword Literary Journal, Conclave: A Journal of Character, Danse Macabre, Drunk Monkeys, Maudlin House, The Penmen Review, Poetry Quarterly, Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, Teeth Dreams, Veil: A Journal of Darker Musings and Zouch Magazine.
Everybody Is A Critic
“[I]f he drop but six Pence at the Door, and will Censure a Crowns worth,
it is thought there is no Conscience, or Justice in that.”
— Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair.
’Tis easy to be moral
when temptation treats us coy
and felicitous to love virtue
upon the dearth of a ripe spoil.
Oft we point our fingers
at kingmakers decadence
when, forsooth, three coins would purchase
our complaisant fortitude.
Everybody is a critic
when the physic’s out of reach.
Accommodation will arouse
a supercilious reproach
of errant turpitude
in our witness of mankind.
Itemize we might
the failings of those we asperse,
but who’s to say how honest
we would act without a purse?
Everybody plays the saint
when the options ain’t extant.
Banning cigarettes? Sounds upright by me;
I just quit last night and misery loves equity.
Next, let’s tax the tofu
for Alzheimer’s research sake; *
I could say I hate the stuff, but
I’d rather be a fake.
There’s always something we don’t want
and things we like above the rest;
tyranny always begins with
“I’m concerned, and know what’s best.”
’Tis expedient to eschew
humors with so dear a price
but, in so doing, it will balm
a sense of loss to call ’em vice.
Why make a sacrifice
unless some justice doth ensue —
“I can do without it
and as of now, friend, so can you.”
Everybody is a critic
who stands outside the line without a ticket.
* “Eating high levels of some soy products — including tofu — may raise the risk of memory loss, research suggests. The study focused on 719 elderly Indonesians living in urban and rural regions of Java. The researchers found high tofu consumption — at least once a day — was associated with worse memory, particularly among the over-68s. The Loughborough University-led study features in the journal Dementias and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders.” BBC, Tofu ‘may raise risk of dementia,’ July 4, 2008.
“Truth says, of old the art of making plays
Was to content the people; and their praise
Was to the poet money, wine, and bays.
But in this age, a sect of writers are,
That, only, for particular likings care,
And will taste nothing that is popular.”
— Ben Jonson, Epicoene, Prologue.
I swear we got barbarians
with all their vulgar slang.
They rub together two conceits
and get one syllable at most.
It’s positively procacious.
It’s reductionist, this lexicon
Is ‘cool’ ‘awesome’ and ‘just sayin’’
the apotheosis of discourse?
Nay — recidivist!
Now, listen, Mister All-Bugged-Out:
your problem is (I mean it sucks),
you talk like books and that’s a drag
when where it’s at is here and now.
Ya dig? Or what?
What say you, sirrah?
You’re one to speak —
with tattoos stamped on your physique
your skin is an old comic book.
This ‘culture’ of lubricity
and truculent insouciance
which you do champion as ‘hip’
strikes me as most unsapient.
Your syllables lack pulchritude!
Like, wow, and, man,
that’s all effed up.
Your bogus talk
is nil and void.
If I were you, I would chill out.
Yo, let me settle this dispute —
I have the drop and it’s a hoot.
Since bashing my art seems the thing,
we’ll let tattoos define each dude
and he will own his words in feud.
Preposterous and pestilent!
Hell yeah! Like, cool!
Uncircumspect, egregious fool!
So, gramps, wassup, decline the duel?
Impertinent! I’ll feeze thee yet —
Talk is cheap, do you accept?
Alright, I will —
Then tats to kill!
So, here we go,
[To the Hipster:] ‘wow’ is the word.
[Tattoos ‘wow’ on his arm.]
No problem, bro.
[To the Author:] and yours,
[Tattoos ‘trulcent’ on his arm.]
Ouch I say.
Say ‘ouch’? Where art
OK, here’s more:
[To the Hipster:] ‘nil’ is your word.
[Tattoos ‘nil’ on his arm.]
I’d rather ‘cool.’
Oh well. [To the Author:] Now you,
[Tattoos ‘pulchritude’ on his arm.]
[To the Author:] Next time.
[To the Hipster:] And, go for broke, ‘sucks’ is your word.
[Tattoos ‘sucks’ on his arm.]
[To the Hipster:] Whatever, man.
And, now one more. [To the Author:] ‘Apotheosis.’
[Tattoos ‘apotheosis’ on his arm.]
More syllables is better yet.
If you insist.
No way, I’m done
and I’m undone.
I’ve had my fill of this rude jest
and, as of now, it is confessed
that slang is piffle, best suppressed.
Now let us speak our rich language
with fearlessness, howe’er prolix,
and strive to count all galaxies
for every word’s one nova more.