The Apologia of Narcissus

Like Aphrodite rising out of foam
I came from Carolina, my first home,
To denigrate the less-than-liberal masses
And suck up to the leftish upper classes.
I take my inspiration and direction
From my bathroom mirror’s clear reflection:
A face that glows there, begging for a kiss,
Beside the toilet bowl wherein I piss.
The poetry I write, meant to inspire
My grad-school groupies with erotic fire,
Purports to be well-rooted in the past
Like poor Odysseus, shackled to the mast,
But in fact my use of rhyme and meter
Is meant to be a fig leaf for my peter.
Why so?  Because my sex is handicapped—
To be a male today will leave you strapped.
For when I gaze into that bathroom mirror
And see a white guy’s puss, I start to shiver.
It’s crucial I make certain my verse speaks
To feminists, minorities, and freaks.
In other words, I sure as hell must say
“Although I’m white and southern, I’m OK!”
Just think of all the grants I might not get
If I ignored the ever-present threat
Of liberal disapproval and disdain!
I’d have to suffer unimagined pain
As one of those unspeakable pariahs.
I’d be as hated as my southern sires!
Instead of reverence for the past’s great sages
I dream of incremental steps in wages,
And how I’ll sweet-talk my next coed cutie,
And after that, teach poor white trash their duty.
Confident in my art, I know I’m great
Since I’m a tenured, poet Lau-REE-ATE!
Well, not just yet—the laurel’s bound to come.
Those D.C. bigshots would be rather dumb
To overlook Narcissus, who fits nicely:
White, southern, male, but LIBERAL!  That’s precisely
What suits the Clintons’ demographic bill—
A Poet Laureate who is a shill
To balance both sides of a shrewd equation:
Overtly “macho,” leftist in persuasion!
Lookit me, Ma!  A stomp-down country poet
Though I’ve made sure the powers that be don’t know it.
Anyone can be that sort of bard—
Take pen in hand (it isn’t very hard)
And stroke it gently.  Write in such a way
To advertise your specialized cachet:
Rigorous, manly, tough, and full of grit,
But with a soft spot for left-liberal shit.
In brief, my every effort at creation
Is one more act of self-annihilation
To keep as simon-pure my Liberal Reputation.




R.S. Gwano teaches at Lame University somewhere below the Mason-Dixon line, where he tries very hard not to be taken for a southerner. He was recently appointed the director of a major poetry conference, after having artfully positioned himself for the job once the previous directrix had been dismissed.