(for Kim)
As I walk through the bookstores of madness,
I hear the groans of the pompous minds,
begging from the pages of hard-bound volumes:
"Read me! Read me!"--
They terrify me with their endless reviews
and their immense heap of knowledge and they all
want to teach me something with their outpourings of
profundities--they are the experts,
the prophets of the New Age--with numerous
lists and titles--and they have all done readings and
lectures and interviews,
and they are all so very important,
I've seen them all in newspapers, magazines
and on the national talk shows, advertising their
latest masterpieces which have made
the New York Times Book Review
list of bestsellers...
There is something sickening about it all,
and I'm filled with tears as I look
at one of those glossy covers
of a book by some "great" author--
written on it--
A million copies of what? I wonder
as I think of some stinking salesman of "love"
and "passion" in this antiseptic
world of coffee-drinking mannequins
who are up on every latest book...
No! Get it all away from me!
I'm suffocated by all the publicity,
by all the greatness, by all the prophetic visions
of some new social order--
I have no more insight than a dog urinating at
a fire hydrant--
I have no serious or controversial message
to relate to anyone anymore,
except that I love a girl who's
somewhat frightened by what I have to say
about human nature unless I say it
in some socially acceptable manner,
so I turned to this crazy business
of writing poetry just to say
that I love her.

                                March 21, 1991
                             --Alexander Shaumyan