Heroes as Novelties

Heroes

many writers
maybe most
have heroes
or did
some holding on
some letting go
to
hemingway
wolfe
kreouak
plath
burroughs
joyce
melville
sexton......
whoever

so how do you write
without heroes
offering you subject
form
style
and all the rest?
and how do you write
with all their groupies
and lackeys
yipping and yapping
or ignoring?
either way
them
deciding if
your words and ideas
your ways of seeing 
and making sense
of things
are good enough
or not

what do you do with them?
influences?
sure
but heroes?
no
when and because
so much of their stuff
seems quaint
okay
but only
cute and quaint
and pleasing enough
like the beach boys
or andy williams
like disco
like simon and garfunkel
or joni mitchell
okay for its time
and still heard
and played some
but lacking any bite
while even 
poor arthur
with the goofy hair
maybe because of it
taking steps
even closer
toward immortality
by appearing in movies
but still 
wasn't enough
to immortalize him
like hemingway
in spite
of sharing the big screen
with nicholson 
and all the songs he sang
selling in the millions

and those old guys
for all their sauce and sass
the burroughs
and hemingways
hunter s.
miller
and kesey
and ginbsberg
seeming more like characters
or caricatures
now
either them
or their styles
or their substances
the various flavors
of what a writer
or writing
was supposed to be
at the time

those rebels
those literary edgelords
of their days
those heroes as novelties
like the pioneers of punk
and new wave
back in their days too
whose tunes are still good
even salty
but not much 
listened to nowadays either
those kids
left with little
but talking about the glory days
of a declining civilization
that neither improved
nor declined
enough
those rebels
maybe the buffers
for any true rebellion
absorbing our collective angst
turning its power
into sales
and movements
countercultures
and subcultures
with plenty of precious accessories
that kept us confident
in what we were 
conditioning us
to move on
in later years
to new cultures
and identities
full of their own 
costly accessories

while they
the cultural revolutionists
no longer make music
at all
or
if so
none
that anybody cares about
regardless of the time
when their stuff
was novel
edgy
and exciting
but forgotten now
even with its bite
still novel
but seemingly lost
in most of the stuff
of nowadays

i suppose
writing gets stale
when it's all
ties with half-widsors
and classic
brown or black
wingtips and oxfords
so it makes sense
to mix it up
with platforms
and skinny ties
and when those fashions fade
to trot them out again
from time to time
at hot topic or spencer's
for the cool kids to revive
as the old emblems of the new fashions
or the new orders
of culture or politics
they hinted at
once
reviving the past
for the sake of novelty
in what once was
reviving
for the playfulness
in the irony
of the whole
act

so like what you like
the kennedeys
joy division
skynard
or 
the bee gees
it's no condemnation
just trying to figure out
what's left
when all our heroes
are set
free
to become what they should
when they're free
from us
and us
free
from them

and trying to figure out
why we cling
then don't
to the artists
the writers
the lyricists
and troubadours
waites
cohen
simon
dylan
that folks once loved
towering artists
with things to say
that people wanted to hear
but in their last decades
with either little to say
or nobody to listen
so nobody to buy
why?
if such great artists
such insightful and sensitive souls
seen mostly
as cute and quaint
novelty acts
now?

do our collective souls
always and necessarily 
pine
for something new
something novel
like kale or quinoa or poke
instead of great-grandma's
tired 
old yet hearty
recipes?
do we need novelties
old or new
like bell bottoms
parachute pants
bolo or bow ties?
like the pixies
or black flag
that go out again
to remind us 
of when 
we used to feel something
as real
as the anger and angst
of all our juvenile fears 
and uncertainties
or maybe the opposite
some artist of old
representing and reminding
of an idealism 
that got lost
in us
somewhere

or
are there things eternal
enduring
in beethoven
or tolstoy
that seem mostly stale
or get lost
in the milieu 
of our current 
artistic fashions?

fuck nostalgia
for sure
that's not what this is
but
for as much as i hate it
maybe she's worth giving
a peck on the cheek
from time to time
just to get close enough
to whiff
the stench 
on her breath
to remind us
of what she is
enduring her fetor oris
to get close enough
to know
if it's the odor 
of death
yet
or the same old 
fetid rot
of our pining 
for the novelties
of yesterdays
as we yearn 
for all the novelties
that our tomorrows 
will bring
too

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