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John Barleycorn in Rags

john barleycorn

He is John, man in ragged overcoat
Long to withered knees
Manbeard made of clipped leaves and twigs

Man with face of rough bark
John who walks Saturday-night stupor
Through sibilant rings

Of maple, elm and linden leaves,
Swiftly satyr-dancing
Into crackling flower of fire

In peripatetic permutations, cough
Of dry staccato vespers, leaf to stone,
Each skeletal ballet whispers

He who is barrowed by mottled stile,
Stilled and waked in copper kettle,
Kegged and bunged for cooling cellar

In hoarse tones violent riots of autumn
Become seasonal rites trans-
Corporeal, quiet in slow burn

He is John of the demijohn
Bottle god of good folk,
Fanatic familiar of flagon, flask and firkin

His limber limbs are all consumed,
Sap-drunk as wasp and hornet
Dry and empty as cracked bobbin,

His spirit tumbles leaves down empty lanes
And empty well; he is spirit in wind,
He makes spirits from color, heat and motion

He is tall shoots and thick roots,
A shock of fruited stalks between
Breaks from his loamy scalp.

His anatomy taps boot heels,
Claps coarse palms. He, mate of dance,
Husband of hilarity, spouse of song.

Brittle brown leaves, fallen angels
Dancing down cold swift winds
Hymns that scrape, swirl and click

And always he must come along,
Always feed fire’s fermenting flower –
He empties nectar from his eye

He is John, and John must die.

Ballade of the Fisherman’s Children

A Chilean fisherman, after drinking a couple of pisco shots, rests in the shadow of his boat on the beach of Quintero, Chile, 19 April 2002.

Our father is drunk again and sings a piece
Upon the deck, a snatch, a riff, a shard;
He ought not sing so crazy loud – suffice
To say the compass turns upon his word;
For neighbors want to hear – but what they’ve heard
Expressed is smiling tongue and laughing face –
A drunken fisherman who’s overboard
       With sister moon, now hushing father’s eyes,
       And brother sun, now blinding father’s voice.

He swigs his wine and holds a sloshing glass
Through which he spies opinions, preferred
Because they sound so good to folk so nice:
“I love that dirty water…!” sang the horde
Outside my father’s door – and he concurred.
For home’s a planted anchor, worldly-wise,
But progress blows with sweetened breezes toward
       Our sister moon, who’s hushing father’s eyes,
       And brother sun, who’s blinding father’s voice.

Within his wobbly tune, a note of grace
Is breaking through – to sober up and guard
His voyage. “Praise to you…” But lost in bliss,
As weevils in a bit of moldy bread,
Does he see that now twilight’s come aboard?
The shadows growing dark as sharks across
The dimming sea – they skim for us – are bored
       By sister moon, who’s hushing father’s eyes
       And brother sun, who’s blinding father’s voice.

O fisherman of men, not fish nor bird
Nor all the songs of earthly paradise
Can hook the world (the bait our dangling Lord) –
       Not sister moon, who’s hushed up your eyes
       Nor brother sun, who’s blinding Peter’s voice.

Korrektiv’s Drink-related word of the day.

The word is sgriob (“screebh”).

Drinking in Bed with You and Lucinda Williams


Our bed’s been drinking, spinning morning dry
As Lucinda pours her loud blood in song
From whiskey bottles, singing about why
Both love and coffee scald, both black and strong
As night – but sunlight lays its warning blade
Across your tapered thighs. There, spider veins
Put paid to what our nudity has made –
Now flush with alcohol – the blush that stains
My middle-aged desires. Your rounded hips
Are building flesh to slender curves; these rise
As, rolling on your side, you bring your lips
To mine and cut the lines that held my eyes.
The spirits, going sober, speak to bone:
We limp through love; you reconnect the phone.

Badger Korrektiv


Yep, just like the proverbial blister – showing up after the work is done. That is in fact JOB staying the hell out of the way of men who actually know what they’re doing as he heads to Twin Cities for something called the Argument of the Month Club as chauffeur for ten good men in Driver 8, including Matt Korger, Wisconsin’s Own Blogging Superstar of the Catholic Blogosphere, who was there to document the crash course with zaniness.

We were done in under 20 minutes with plenty of time for beer and appetizers…

Enough to make even the Old Man proud.

Two Short Poems about Medieval England, Historical and Mythical

On Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum
In the 600s AD, the English
(Anglo-Saxons) had to cede
authority to Italian and Irish
missionaries—so says Bede.

Doo After the Good and Leve the Evyl
Chivalry itself is more than fable,
even if modeled on knights in Le Morte
, and how they comport
themselves away from the round table.

Carmina Mucronis: 5


Take this two-hundred count
of donated denarii, my dear Dido
of golden Arabia. That’s two pounds
worth of purple – yes, wages enough
for two months. But this is not all.
I will return in a week’s time:
Don’t forget to leave your window
unlatched, open, inviting as usual,
with your scarf tied on, drenched
in the newly bought lavender
which my silver gift will allow you
to purchase. Then I will slip the sill
in silence and, holding my breath,
find you by your gentle panting
and the scent of your presence
awash upon the air. Meanwhile,
pocket my coins in the soft bed
of your purse: let it polish and buff
Apollo’s heads as if each were mine –
let it coddle each nude Marsyas too,
he who stands by Minerva as a vow
to share his wineskin with us two,
you and I, together – and let love make
of my sunny currency something
with a proper interest for you.

Korrektiv announces new Latin literary find


Long thought to be a fabulous hoax played by Hugh Kenner on Ezra Pound for his 75th birthday, the “Mucorix Manscript,” as it has come to be known, has been baffling scholars for years. But now a Latinist from Finland Boj Neirbo says he has unraveled the mystery of the, until now, untranslatable document, claiming that the late Latin Classical text, a weird hybrid of Latin and Aramaic, can be sourced to a time immediately following the nadir of Roman poetry.

Looking at the subtexts, pretexts, ur-texts and contexts in the manuscript, Professor Selywn Mauberly of Puerto Rico State University and his colleague Johnathan Boy were “immediately struck by the authenticity” of the phrasing, syntax and diction.

“I think the late Mr. Kenner would be pleased to know that his little joke turned out to be something rather spectacular,” Mauberly writes in the official journal of Roman verse, Latin Poetry Yesterday – and, Yes, Today. “He must have known the world would eventually discover what he passed off as his own was in fact a long-lost manuscript from a poet who calls himself Ferrugus Mucorix – an obvious pseudonym.”

Also given the title “Carmina Mucronis” by the 9th century English monastic scholar St. Hubbins of Butterbreadbury, the enigmatic manuscript, which is dated to sometime in late winter A.D. 1-3., is filled with simple yet startling images, erotic themes and quite a bit of immature humor, Mauberly states. The centerpiece of the collection, a long didactic poem which blends epic, satire and scatological humor, is of particular note for the clues it leaves regarding other manuscript mysteries still raging in the heady world of contemporary classical scholarship.

“I’d be telling tales out of school if I said any more,” Neirbo said, speaking without even a whiff of a Swedish accent at a press conference held in the third booth on the left from the rest rooms at a Denny’s in Hoboken, NJ. “You just have to buy the book.”

According to Mauberly, at the same press conference, the work also includes a number of fragments of what appear to be a larger work.

“There are a swarm of theories swirling around the Maypole, much like those pieces of well-chewed meat that swirl around a sink drain but never seem to get to take the final plunge,” Mauberly said as he gave a sideways sneering glance to Neirbo. “But the most popular, and by far the most credible, I might add, is the belief that these fragments were actually part of a larger work attempting to celebrate the glories of the Roman sewer system such as it was at that time.”

While not at the press conference, Mauberly’s assistant, Boy, noted that it sought to do for plumbing what the renowned Roman epic poet Vergil’s Georgics did for farming.

“You might call it ‘The Cloacics’,” he said by phone from what sounded like someplace deep in a well with the constant rumble of large machinery in the background.

Also intriguing Mucorix scholars for years was the identity of Flavia, to whom many of the poems were addressed. From the text, scholars have gleaned that she was an Arabian slave with whom Mucorix has several trysts and who is owned by an individual identified as Calvus.

“As an objet de mon affection Flavia really out-Lesbias Lesbia, truly eclipses Cynthia and, in fact, indeed, decidedly, even, serves as a sort of uber-Kerouac,” Mauberly said at the same press conference between bites of warmed over bacon and cold fried eggs, alluding to Mucorix’s predecessors, the 1st century Roman poets Catullus and Sextus Propertius, and 20th century Beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg.

“But there’s a lack of originality there to Flavia which pretends to something else,” Neirbo said not quite under his breath, fixing Mauberly with a cold stare as he reacted to Mauberly’s tart reminder that Denny’s no longer has a “smoking section” by stabbing his cigarette out in the yolk of Mauberly’s third egg, which Mauberly said he “wasn’t going to eat anyway.”

Mauberly then proceeded to order a strawberry ice cream soda.

Running to a little more than 20 pages, the manuscript has been traced by Mauberly to actor Rudolph Valentino, who it is believed purchased the manuscript back in the early 1920s in Syria as the actor, an early proponent of method acting techniques, was sifting through palimpsests at a book stall in a Damascus market. It then vanished, Mauberly says, before resurfacing at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, D.C., in time for the poet Pound’s 75th birthday. It is now housed in the New Jersey State University Lou Costello Library, Exit 32.

“Can I get some more coffee?” Neirbo said, lifting his cup as he attempted to gain the attention of the waitress, who said she didn’t “have time for his shit.”

“That was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted,” added Mauberly looking up from the bits of strawberry seed collecting at the bottom of his glass.
Editor’s Note: Add another first to Korrektiv’s long list of accomplishments! After consulting with Boj Neirbo and pushing enough alcohol and tobacco in his direction, Korrektiv has acquired the first North American rights to his translation of the Mucorix Manuscript. Beginning with the introductory poem (which appears below), Korrektiv will be periodically publishing the collected works of Mucorix over the next month. I’m sure you will all be excited as the Korrektiv Kollektiv in seeing this important literary figure virtually resurrected before your eyes here at Korrektiv, where yesterday’s poets are and always remain yesterday’s poets today.

Carmina Mucronis: I

Stride on, my strident little book,
and tell the days of love and war;
stride on from noisy city avenues
to farms that lie in peaceful sunlight,
up the fields flush with wine
awaiting harvest vats and jars –
and tell Mars of your conquests,
all the while dedicated to Venus
who alone holds your shaft and shield,
mixing love and war in her bowl.
Stride on, my strident little book,
and tell the days of love and war
to the fortunate Gaius Laternium;
o, for he shall have you at last
when in his cups, clattering full
with mirthy bubbled blood
of love, that heady mixture of wine
and mellowing honey. For you,
famous scribbler of time and place,
here are some accounts of battle
given in softer measures than yours.
May Venus grant me a good vintage
in polished jars of posterity!

Two Short Poems About Fashion Designers

Fashion Their Passion
“Well! You certainly have a fine
looking tie, M. Blass,” said M. Saint
Laurent, fluffing his own pavonine
ascot, he himself looking très bien.

Fashionable Exclamation
When the models walked
out on the runway, dressed
so tastefully in Vera Wang,
the audience wore a shocked
demeanor, best expressed
with a boldface interabang.