Evolution of a Plagiarist
Take a daughter, any daughter, let’s say her father’s famous
Let’s say he’s a cartoonist known for his counterculture style
Take the daughter, and her drawings, now let’s say that she’s an artist
Covering a variety of topics and a multitude of themes
But when you make the coffee table book that shows what she’ll be known for you are focused on the drawings of her famed cartoonist dad
Let’s say some of them are naked (and he’s known for being naked)
and many more refer to the fetishes of which he brags
and so she becomes Electra, and her Jew mother Clytemnestra,
so now archetypes are released where two women used to stand.
Now take the story, take the poem, drag the poem from the story
Take the narrative you’re building, though the narration’s been done
Take the way that you must process everything she tries to tell you
Speaking loudly with her eyes and ears although her mouth is closed
Underneath the violet headboard
‘neath the noise, the void, the meaning
and the silences you know by now you’ll never understand
Take the pictures of her lifestyle. Take the images you filter.
Keep your own eyes open going with her to the clubs and to the bars
Watch her hairstyle, watch her movements, watch the tactics as she compliments the woman while she strokes the folds ‘tween the man’s thighs
Make the facts fit the backstory that the coffee table gave you
Press her down like a dead fairy into that book you’ll write
Take your knowledge, take your learning, take every experience that’s left you
Stupid as you were on the day that you were born
when the doctors pulled your ankles from that open solar plexus
someone’s daughter: spread beneath you: sliced like Portnoy: like a fugu
like a reference to McDuff where a woman used to be
Take your little crumbs of knowledge so opposed to understanding
and acknowledge that the narrator will always make it about him.
This poem is inspired by a superficial examination of Evolution of a Crazy Artist by Sophie Crumb. It is fiction based on an afternoon’s perusal, and is NOT in any way a story about the real Sophie Crumb, nor her famous father. I have never met either, and know little about them.
The Father of Gilgamesh and the Lady of Shallot
I am told that every woman is a mystery
that a passionate man can only crave to explore
I am told ladies long for such study
I can only determine that you long no more.
I have heard such study is my greatest pursuit
and that commitment to such is more valorous than war.
But I find it trifling, the answers unrewarding
though at our first meeting, you answer nevermore.
Great ladies, seeking their own place in history,
have chosen me to speak for them. Thus I enter into lore
as beauty's champion, all things flawlessly masculine
my reputation hiding how deeply I am bored
to you, nothing holds interest any more.
I am engorged with answers. Women throw their clues at me
without grace, compassion,
without concern for muse or mystery which they profess to serve
in some endless nest of rules in which they could never score
while you lie, sacrosanct,
your thoughts flowing out your hair into river without memory,
your ready lips concealing as a babbling fool's rapport.
Jonathan Penton is the Editor-in-Chief of the on-line magazine Unlikely Stories: Episode IV (and its daughter, Unlikely Books), the Managing Editor at MadHat, and the Managing Editor at Fulcrum: an anthology of poetry and aesthetics. He is working on his fifth poetry chapbook and a libretto, which is very similar to investing in both real estate and hedge funds.