Eric M. R. Webb. Oh Ezra.

10 Sep



          a pale flare over marshes
                     where the salt hay whispers to tide’s change
          Time, space,
                    neither life nor death is the answer.
          – Ezra Pound, from Canto CXV

Tonight we ate pork short ribs bought at the poor man’s market
we smoked them over fire and dampened apple wood branches.

I was asked to write to you, and this is all I can think of: How wrong
you are. How right you are. Like all of us, seeking a balance.

Yet there is no balance to be had in this world or this life at all.
You know this, master of complexity, or here: Vesuvius.

The smoke wrapped out of the chimney for almost a whole day
and the outcome was a generation fed into the machine. You lived

through two world wars and their vast hunger and the hungry
military calling for more more more. How many minor wars did you

have to ignore, the ones who lived mutilated in the same way our boys
are today. I doubt you were a religious man. But do you see it, the cost?

There is always a cost, the capital demands it. And where there is a cost,
not far behind, though maybe dragging a little and slow, there’s a profit.

You see it, you saw it ahead of time, but just because late-capitalism
is doomed to eat itself does not mean nationalism is the way to counter

that greed. Though many who now call themselves libertarians might
agree on your general principles, if you cared to explain them.

Oh, the Cantos. Your Cantos, your bleeding lovely voyage, visage,
desire to encompass the depth of twentieth century despair, don’t worry,

they will come around eventually. Yet most of us know you for the love
song you didn’t even write, or for sitting hunched in a wire cage

writing letters and poems in the dirt to the stars and the guards,
and which of them cared for your words, you in jail for them?

My lovely friend, she performs yoga, which in a way is doing with
the body what you did with the mind and poetry. But she is also a poet

and writes a verse enabled by you. This verse here is written by you.
Many will disagree. Many will not forgive your betrayal, few will get

roused by your Cantos, or even understand them. This is no threat.
Few will doubt your brilliance, and few will forgive you,

yet you live with that. Those in the streets right now protesting
what they should be protesting, are not angry at a too-forgiving

government, yet one that begins to resemble more and more your
Mussolini’s treatment of his people: shoot first, militarize the polizia,

and these voices from the Cantos crying out: stay stay stay with us,
stay with us and finish our travels, annotate our voyage into the 21st.

This is what we ask: dance with us to your music. Make us your story.

But, Ah! you already have written it, haven’t you, tricksy bastard:
Oils, beasts, grasses, petrifaction, birds, incrustations, liquifaction,

and Hydraulic Fracturing—Fracking they call it now—earth shatterers
and freedom of purchase and sale, spin and counter-spin, all propaganda—

which you know a thing or two about, yes?—though we can’t call it that these days.
Really, here you are, amongst us post-modern citizens, you have written

late-capitalism into being as though a golem. Maybe it is already too late,
maybe we already are in post-last-capitalism, where the fake furs are real,

and animals are us, to be eaten and spit out, and maybe the workers know
to jump ship every couple years, and the consumer understands marketing

fluently but doesn’t care for contemplation because it is too I saw the best minds
of my generation howling madness in the last throes of government falling

to the corporation hive-hedge-fund brain. Maybe it is too late.
But, maybe it is not, and if that is the case, and you’re still reading,

here you are: faces appear in protest, petals against
late-capitalism, against rain-slicked riot police, against wet-black asphalt.





3 Responses to “Eric M. R. Webb. Oh Ezra.”


  1. Recording of “Oh Ezra” | Poetic Idealism - September 26, 2014

    […] You can read along at Pea River Journal. […]

  2. 2014 Pushcart nominees | pea river journal - October 7, 2014

    […] “Oh Ezra,” a poem published as part of the Prints Project. Eric M. R. Webb is a poet, teaches literature and writing at Northern Virginia Community College, and will soon begin a regular reading series and parallel ‘zine near where he lives; find him at […]

  3. “Ill Not in the Mind” nominated for the 2014 Pushcart Prize | Anthony Martin - October 7, 2014

    […] “Oh Ezra” by Eric M. R. Webb […]

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