Thinking About Pound on Shattuck Avenue by Tom Clark


Thinking about Pound on Shattuck Avenue

is like genuflecting in hiking boots

a classic case of being overequipped.


If we live in a sea of insincerity, and they say,

how many additional drops

does it take to make a wave?

Forlorn as driftwood, The

ABC of Reading

sits untouched, swamped

by enough Chez Panisse

to give Neptune a heartburn.

At the brink of the frankly autobiographical


one hesitates. Can one live with grace

in such a place? Is escape possible?

were my thoughts of the day

So what else is new ...

A clerk looked my way.

Art in our time is a toy of the middle


class, I said, squirming in

my bike pants in the pasta maker

bookshop. Gourmets fidgeted

all around me, eyes glued

to the pages of the Rilke cookbooks.

Under the effete weight

the hardwood floors contracted.


Death came very near.

It is really all around us,

a pang of dissonance hidden

in the surreptitious music of the cash register,

in the timid squeak of earth shoes,

behind the piped Sibelius--


pitched much too low for dogs to hear,

the melody of the death

of culture. The poets are dead.

Ezra floated home on a boat

of flowers

just in time.

From “Disordered Ideas” by Tom Clark (Black Sparrow Press: $17.95, cloth, $9, paper; 205 pp.). Born in Chicago in 1941, Clark served for 10 years as poetry editor of The Paris Review, of which he remains an advisory editor. He has published numerous volumes of poetry, including “Air” (1969), “Stones” (1970), “When Things Get Tough on Easy Street” (1978) and “Paradise Resisted” (1984) (Black Sparrow). He has written biographies of Ted Berrigan, Damon Runyan and Jack Kerouac. Clark is also the author of a recently published novel, “The Exile of Celine” (Random House).