Poetry: The Book of my Enemy — Edward Estlin Cummings Dead | clivejames.com
[Invisible line of text as temporary way to expand content column justified text width to hit margins on most viewports, simply for improved display stability in the interval between column creation and loading]

Edward Estlin Cummings Dead

what time el Rouble & la Dollar spin
‘their’ armies into ever smaller change,
patrolling Kopeks for a Quarter search
& Deutschfranc, after decimating Yen
inflates with sterling Rupee in a ditch

(what time, i.e., as moneys in their ‘death’
throes leave room for unbought souls to breathe)

that time, perhaps,

I’m him believing (i.

e., cummings
hold it
CUMMINGS) dead (
p       e       g       g       e       d               o       u       t
) & I will leave him lie

Note (from Collected Poems)

I wrote this all-purpose E. E. Cummings pastiche when I was still a student in Sydney, and still deeply in his debt, although no longer in his thrall. Since it was designed to spoof some of the sub-Apollinaire tricks that Cummings worked on the page, it couldn’t really work in performance, though I sometimes had fun trying. And I hope even this squib conveys a hint of what I really got from him: with his acute ear for phonetic balance, he could make a line go like a Bunk Johnson trumpet solo. In the decades to come I got a lot of my ideas about the forward drive of a syncopated rhythm from jazz and rock and roll. Even today, when my feet are almost too tired to tap, my work in verse is less likely to be haunted by the Elizabethan sonneteers than by the Count Basie rhythm section or the Funk Brothers, the engine room of Tamla Motown.