Happiness is Poetry: David Lerner

Happiness is Poetry: David Lerner

poet, poetry, outlawPoetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.Leonard Cohen

David Lerner is another poet I found in the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry.  If you’ve read my other poetry posts you know that I like poets cut in the mold of Bukowski, poets who paint the rawest picture of reality warts and all.  It’s why I like Sapphire, Warsan Shire, and Doug Draime.  So tonight a few pieces from another poet in this vein, enjoy and as always have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane


David Lerner, “Mein Kampf”

all I want to do is
make poetry famous

all I want to do is
burn my initials into the sun

all I want do do is
read poetry from the middle of a
burning building
standing in the fast lane of the
falling from the top of the
Empire State Building

the literary world
sucks dead dog dick

I’d rather be Richard Speck
than Gary Snyder
I’d rather ride a rocketship to hell
than a Volvo to Bolinas

I’d rather
sell arms to the Martians
than wait sullenly for a
letter from some diseased clown with a
three-piece mind
telling me that I’ve won a
bullet-proof pair of rose-colored glasses
for my poem “Autumn in the Spring”

I want to be
by everyone who teaches for a living

I want people to hear my poetry and
get headaches
I want people to hear my poetry and

I want people to hear my poetry and
weep, scream, disappear, start bleeding,
eat their television sets, beat each other to death with
swords and

go out and get riotously drunk on
someone else’s money

this ain’t no party
this ain’t no disco
this ain’t no foolin’ a

grab-bag of
clever wordplay and sensitive thoughts and
gracious theories about

how many ambiguities can dance on the head of a
machine gun

this ain’t no
genteel evening over
cappuccino and bullshit

this ain’t no life-affirming
our days have meaning
as we watch the flowers breath through our souls and
fall desperately in love

this ain’t no letter-press, hand-me-down
wimpy beatnik festival of bitching about
the broken rainbow

it is a carnival of dread

it is a savage sideshow
about to move to the main arena

it is terror and wild beauty
walking hand in hand down a bombed-out road
as missiles scream, while a
sky the color of arterial blood
blinks on and off
like the lights on Broadway
after the last junkie’s dead of AIDS

I come not to bury poetry
but to blow it up
not to dandle it on my knee
like a retarded child with
beautiful eyes

throw it off a cliff into
icy seas and
see if the the motherfucker can swim for its life

because love is an excellent thing
surely we need it

but, my friends…

there is so much to hate These Days

that hatred is just love with a chip on its shoulder
a chip as big as the Ritz
and heavier than
all the bills I’ll never pay

because they’re after us

they’re selling radioactive charm bracelets
and breakfast cereals that
lower your IQ by 50 points per mouthful
we get politicians who think
starting World War III
would be a good career move
we got beautiful women
with eyes like wet stones
peering out at us from the pages of
glassy magazines promising that they’ll
fuck us till we shoot blood

if we’ll just buy one of these beautiful switchblade knives

I’ve got mine


The Future Task of Language

the future task of language
is to
drive a cherry-red Mercedes Benz
into the heart of hell
and place a bet on God

the future task of language
is to
burn itself down in prayer and
invent a new code for beauty

the future task of language
will be to invent a way of
dealing with loneliness

the future task of language
is more like a guess written in fire
than a new coat of ideas and a
real close shave

the future task of language
is more like something erupting
than something figuring itself out
over and over again

the future task of language
will be to do whatever the fuck it wants

the future task of language
is unknowable, impossible, grief-struck, mad,
endless, touching,
wired, wild and weary,
broken-down, dragged up, smashed, floating
in the wind


Why Rimbaud Went to Africa – David Lerner

Poetry isn’t literary
poetry isn’t sure which fork to
poetry can’t name the parts of speech
fill out a grant application

poetry doesn’t like cappuccino
poetry doesn’t want to be printed in a
small press edition with its name on the
cover and get reviewed in 2 little magazines
read by 3 people
argued over by 8

poetry doesn’t care about glory
glory is nice but poetry figures it’s
poetry doesn’t want to get laid
poetry might want to get drunk but
that’s only self defense

poetry doesn’t want to traipse around Europe
and collect stray bits of wisdom
from ruined empires
that it can show like slides when it gets home
poetry has a headache

poetry is a slingshot
a war you can carry in your pocket
a better way to die
the kind of fire that never goes out
and never gives an inch

poetry wants to be on every street corner
hissing from the cracks in the sidewalks
from the columns of print in the newspapers
on the lips of people on buses going to their
miserable jobs in the morning

poetry wants to be
in the prayers of dogs and the
screams of acrobats
in the terror of politicians
and the dreams of beautiful women

poetry wants to be
an eye through which the world will see itself and
poetry doesn’t want to
die in the gutter
it already knows how

poetry doesn’t want to sparechange strolling professors
and millionaires
wear anything but blood

have conversations with college students about
the meaning of life

because a bad wind is coming
you can smell it in the air

the pollution of the cities
mixed with the odor of rotting souls

the wind will climb

it will have little sense of humor
it will not want cappuccino
or reviews
or girlfriends
or anything else

except the death of
everything we love

About Michael Kane

Michael Kane is a writer, photographer, educator, speaker, adventurer and a general sampler of life. His books on hiking and poetry are available in soft cover and Kindle on Amazon.
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