T.S. ELIOT GOES ON A DUCK TOUR

T.S. Eliot has this face he makes
     as if to say he is not
     angry at the world
     just disappointed
He regards the surplus amphibious truck from World War II,
     now full of tourists.
He makes a T.S. Eliot face
     and thinks to himself,
              There’s a poem in this
In a leather-bound notepad he writes
              “I am participating in a Duck Tour
              and it is really awkward”
He stares at it for several minutes
              then crosses it out.
He writes
              “Teiresias the prophet rides with Charon the guide of souls
              in a boat of iron”
T.S. Eliot has trouble deciding
     where exactly
              Teiresias the prophet and Charon the guide of souls
     are riding
     in said boat of iron.

Meanwhile, in another poem:
              Teiresias the prophet rides with Charon, the guide of souls
     in a surplus amphibious truck from World War II
Charon announces over a PA
     “And on your left, you will see
              a vast stretch of iron-black waters
              over which hangs a vague sense of doom.
     Is it the river Styx?
     Is it the North Sea on a stormy day,
              four years after nine million young men died
              in filthy trenches
              from mustard gas and artillery
     while you sat in a London Café,
              arguing with Ezra Pound
              about where to put the comma?”
Teiresias says
     “How the hell do you write about stuff like that?”

Somewhere, in a rough draft, T.S. Eliot writes

“April is the cruellest month
              because of all the mustard gas and artillery”

“I will show you fear in a handful of dust
              and also in mustard gas and artillery”

“We are the hollow men
              because mustard gas and artillery will do that to you”

“This is the way the world ends
              Not with a bang
         But with mustard gas and artillery
     Which, I realize,
          Does, in fact, make a bang.
     Shut up, Ezra Pound.”

Somewhere, on a duck tour
     T.S. Eliot wonders how to write a poem
about the way The War To End All Wars
         becomes a prequel no one remembers reading

T.S. Eliot looks out again at the world
     with that face he makes
like he is not angry at it
    just disappointed.

Post Navigation