Ann Arbor Review


Chris Lord
Joseph McNair
Duane Locke
Lazlo Slomovits
Alan Britt
Shutta Crum
Tolu Ogunlesi
Jerry Blanton
Paul B. Roth
Fred Wolven
Felino Soriano
Sharon E. Boyd
Joanie Freeman
Jumoke Verissimo
Running Cub
Jeanpaul Ferro
S. P. Flannery
Kristina Marie Darling
Gary Beck
Dike Okoro
Karyn M. Wolven

a work in progress

                            Henri Lefebvre, 1981

"Prove yourself a man."

"Prove yourself a man."

"Prove yourself a man."

"Prove yourself a man."

"Prove yourself a man," was repeated like the Gregorian chant
Every day in the half-savage (see Ezra Pound) country
Where I was born.  The half of the savagery that was missing
Was the nobility.  No noble savages, just ignoble savages
In the Bolita city where I was born.  Urban savages.  I lived
Among poor white trash (see Erskine Caldwell).

If Jean Jacques Rousseau had witnessed the life style of my
Neighbors, he would have reversed his beliefs and advocated
The proliferation of social institutions to shape and form
Human nature.  Rousseau would have spread the doctrine
Of Thomas Hobbes.

"Prove yourself a man."

I heard these words so much, words
Spoken by
The ignorant, the uncultivated, and lower classes.

But in this United States of Dos Passos' two nations,
The same words
Were spoken by the middle classes and the rich classes.

It seems as if American education has achieved
A classless society,
All are equally stupid.

"Prove yourself a man."

People are rarely precise
In their attempts to communicate,
For in most cases, people
Do not understand what they
Are attempting to communicate,
Or don't have the linguistic skill
To communicate.

So it was difficult to determine
What as meant by "a man."

But after prolonged research,
I established that their definition
Of a man was someone, who
With self-confidence and certainty
Would grab a butterfly,
And with his teeth,
Tear the butterfly apart.

"Prove yourself a man."

When I was alive among the living dead,
I was primarily a real estate salesman,
A real estate salesman
During what is historically called,
"The Florida Boom."
The only qualification to be
A real estate salesman at this time
The wearing of a Panama hat.

But I failed miserably,
Went into debt.
I was deficient in the ability
To exploit.  It was a weakness
That I could not overcome,
In spite of all the courses
On salesmanship I took.
Other people could cheat
Others so naturally, but due
To my weakness, I could not do it.
I sympathized, had empathy
With my targeted victims;
It all ended up with myself
Becoming the victim
And being exploited.

I worked awhile as an actor
In the WPA theatre.  I played
The part of Wozzeck in a
Spanish translation.

My next job was a bodyguard,
I carried on my back
A golf bag with two gold sticks
And a sawed-off shotgun,
And protected a bolita baron.
I failed again, for when
I was concentrated on
A reading of Marcus Aurelius'
The Meditations, a girl
Named Charlotte Corday
Slipped into his mansion,
Found the bolita baron
In the bathtub, soaking
His skin to cure a skin disease,
And she killed him
With a sawed-ff shotgun.
I heard her yell, "I killed one
To save a 100,000 dimes
Of the poor who brought
His bolita tickets," and she
Ran outside to a waiting
Black limousine.  Now she
Lives in a villa on a hill
In Capri, but winters in
An abandoned castle
In Northern Italy.

It is said that Charlotte Corday
Proved herself a man.

I went from one petty job
To another petty job.  I was

Failure in each petty job.

My passionate desire was to be a

A metaphysician, but during my time
Metaphysics was out of fashion.
I was told, "Metaphysics is dead.
All philosophers currently are
Analytic philosophers like A. J. Ayers,
Or logical empiricists.  I was told
I should try to become an Alfred Tarski,
Or Rudolf Carnap."

I even went to Vienna, but I spent
All my time at Schoenburn watching
A stuffed goldfinch in a cage
In the room of an heir of Napoleon.

But while alive among the living dead,
I did write some philosophy.

Here is a sample:

In a perceptive act much has to be overlooked or relegated in order to invent an object and maintain this invented or imagined object in the processes of our mobile and fluid consciousness.  In order to sustain a belief in our consciousness of a tangible singular existence, an extended thing, requires the natural suicide or premeditated murder of the impingement of the copia confronting our awareness.  Excision, elimination, selection precedes what our consciousness selects to give us.  What we possess mentally when an object's existence is posited is a fragment of the fermentation of a total moment whose totality is classified as "the unknown," and thus is not vital or essential to our experiential knowledge.  The unknowable, as Kant has established, the ding auch sich. is unimportant to a situation of mental awareness and emotive responsive to this content that is mental awareness.

Prove yourself a philosopher.


My early sense of social interaction,
Such as eye to eye gazes,
And going with the gang,
Developing our peer relationship
According to the textbook's
Stated developmental level
Which had been arrived at
By the observation of captured rats,
So we bypassed the wild,
The sand hill cranes in the distance
Doing crane, high-leaping, mating
Dances between imported palms,
To observe racetrack flamingos
Placing bets on a doped horse
Went under my self-interrogation
Was found not fit for my temperament.
I discovered I could not share
Other's interest or enjoyments.

My uncle's ambition was
To teach me to be a gentleman
And know about things that even
If the things did not interest me,
The things would interest others.
I always needed something trivial,
Petty, salacious or brutal to
Have a topic that would interest others
For polite parlor or business conversations.
To further my Miami education
My uncle carried me on an excursion boat
To see the island owned
By the popular hero, Al Capone.
My uncle's finger went out to point,
But I knew this is where Al Capone
Caught syphilis
From a night-club, high-paid
Chorus girl and died
Because he did not pay his income tax.


It looked like
A biscuit.

It was colored
Like a biscuit.

It was shaped
Like a biscuit.

It was like
One of those biscuits

Of my farm childhood,
Every morning,

These biscuits
Were stacked

On a plate bordered
With blue Chinese dragons

Snorting blue flames.
1920, Georgia farm.

Hoover carts,
Herbert Hoover.

I bite the biscuit,
It was concrete.

I broke a tooth.
Guards grabbed me.

Told me I
Was destroying

A work of art.
I was in

The breakfast room
Of a modern art museum.

I said, "I thought"
It was a biscuit."

"No, you ignorant bourgeoisie,
It is a work of art."

Not a biscuit,
A work of art.

This was the time of smart bombs,
George Bush.


I sit here in this bar deemed a place of pleasure,
But a spatial location where joy is a simulation,
A pretense that fits the habits that constitutes
The everyday lives of the human beings.  I
Sat here alone among the dispossessed,
Those who have destroyed their possessions
To become an "I-they," a slave mentality,
Those whose lives are putting on a new persona
And taking off hourly, an existence of
Constantly changing identities with anxieties.
No one around me can boast of self-ownership,
For they are owned by what they obey
And do no understand.  They are lost
In what is advertised to be real, but is
A simulation, a mendacity, and never a reality.

I sit here in this bar where soon will
Appear the strip-teaser who strips
Under stage-name, "The Truth."
I am among the noise of blended conversation,
An ugly buzz, not beautiful as a bee's buzz,
I sat among those whose executions
Of their occupations have ruined the world,
And completely relaxed, tranquil,
Due to my Yoga, Buddhist, Taoist training,
Let my mind drift, drift with preconceptions,
As I prepare to write another poem.
A poem about longing is forming,
Longing for her.  The girl I long for
I have never known.  I have never known
Any girl that resembled her, but she
Is the one I long for.  Beautiful sounds
Are forming in my being, beautiful
Sounds to anesthetize the melancholy.
I have no evidence that such a person
I long for exists or will ever exist,
But it gives such joy, this longing.
This longing for what might be possible
Gives more happiness than
Familiarity with what is possible.
I don't know what will happen
As this poem drifts into my mind.
I never plan.  I let it happen,
And its happening brings happiness.

Now, in this bar, the others are
Applauding for "The Truth"
Has come onto the small stage.

Duane Locke, Lakeland


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