Why won’t poetry hurry up and croak already?
This seems to the be the question Kevin Prufer asks in “There Is No Audience for Poetry.” To ask why poetry won’t go gently into that good night is to presume that it isn’t already dead. According to Prufer it isn’t, though it is putting up one fearsome struggle. Indeed it is raging against the dying of the light, and in a most unbecoming way. The victim’s in the trunk, beating his feet to a pulp in fear and desperation as his captors make good their getaway. “They wanted him to stop kicking like that — ” Prufer’s poem begins: “it made their eyes corkscrew, drilled the sun in the sky / so light dumped out like blood from a leak.” These initial few lines whipsaw you with a sudden change of tone. Eyes corkscrewing evoke cartoon delirium — the mustachio-twisting villain KO’ed by Our Hero. Prufer follows this with a rather gruesome, almost inquisitorial image: “corkscrews” give way to a thumbscrew sun augering flesh and bone until blood runs.