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: We gotta talk. What the hell were you trying to do when you wrote this thing? Simon
: Nothing. Henry Fool
: Well, you know, you wrote it in a kind of iambic pentameter. Simon
: Iambic what? Henry Fool
: Verse. Look. In my opinion, this is pretty powerful stuff. Though your spelling is Neanderthal and your reasoning a little naive, your instincts are profound. But the whole thing needs to be given a more cohesive shape. It can be expanded, followed through, unified. Do you see what I'm getting at? Are you willing to commit yourself to this? To really work on it? To give it its due in the face of adversity and discouragement? To rise to the challenge you yourself have set? And don't give me that wonderstruck "I'm only a humble garbage man" bullshit, either. Simon
: It hurts to breathe. Henry Fool
: Of course it does.
: I worked, while you sat back and comfortably dismissed the outside world as too shallow, stupid and mean to appreciate your ideas. Henry Fool
: Is that such a priority? Is that some sort of measure of a man's worth? To drag what's best in him out into the street so every average slob with some pretense to taste can poke it with a stick? Simon Grim
: Maybe. Maybe it is.
: [very calmly
] Once - I forget where I was. Central America, maybe. Somewhere hot. Stupid job, bad pay, dangerous location, and water so foul the natives wouldn't even piss in it - this crowd of drunken motherfuckers hired by the local drug cartel showed up at my hotel room and threatened to tear me limb from limb. And I say, "Listen hombres, OK, you got me outnumbered here four to one and you're gonna kill me here tonight and not a soul in this dimly lit world is gonna notice I'm gone. But one of you, one of you, one of you is gonna have his eye torn out. Period." Silence. "I repeat myself: One of you poor, underpaid jerks is gonna have an eye ripped out of its socket. I promise. It's a small thing perhaps, all things considered, but I will succeed, because it's the only thing I have left to do in this world. So why don't you just take a good look at one another one last time, and think it over a few minutes more." Simon
] And then what happened? Henry Fool
: Well. Here I am, still, after all.
: Be reasonable. Simon
: Can you sit there, look me straight in the eye and tell me that you don't think this poem is great? That it is not at once a poem of great lyrical beauty and ethical depth; that it is not a genuine, highly profound meditation on the miracle of existence? Simon
: I... Henry Fool
: *Can* you? Simon
: No. I can't. Henry Fool
: So you see you have no choice.
: Real life experiences taught me much that perhaps I'd overlooked being a poet laureate in cultural touchstones. People want a good laugh now and then, Ned. Trust me. Good old fashion slapstick humor, naughty innuendo, a few well-placed fart jokes. Enough with the earnest reflection. The tragic but unifying elusiveness of the human spirit in modern times, and so on. I'm through with it. Only now, after all this heart-break and controversy, only now have I been able to confront my inner clown.
: Decisive, committed, admittedly obscure work, indifferent to main-stream approval and unafraid of confrontation with moral and aesthetic absolutes. This, more than you might imagine, is what keeps people from jumping out windows and under trains. Adding to mass-cultural self-congratulation is, of course, its own reward I suppose. Cheap, immediate and disposal as it is... Sorry. Simon Grim
: So you think it's okay for me to be unpopular... Susan Weber
: Oh, I think it's necessary. Simon Grim
: You're an unusual person. Susan Weber
: I have few friends.