Newspoem 1 June 2009

For Accounts Owed:
55 Reasons Paul Ingram and Prairie Lights Books Should Pay Spineless Books for Books Sold Them June 2009

1. People
2. In the year of his death, when I asked Robert Creeley whether America was getting worse, his thoughtful reply was that there is no longer any shared vision of a common good
3. Creeley loved Buffalo, a fine city, its rusty flank propped above mighty foaming falls so massively grandiose no tourism can despoil them
4. And Jonathan at Talking Leaves, Buffalo, finally did pay
5. Iowa City, on the other hand, and Paul Ingram...
6. It is my goal as a writer to write and not be bitter
7. I love your bookstore
8. Intend to keep it that way
9. But my heart is in your hands
10. The purpose of independent publishing is to behave ethically
11. I like closure
12. I guess that makes me a modernist
13. Your casual attitude toward accounts payable reflects poorly upon the entire U.S. experimental literature and independent publishing community
14. Do you even know how lucky it is that I can use a phrase like “U.S. experimental literature and independent publishing community” without irony?
15. If you can control a woman’s thought, you don’t need to control her actions
16. If you can control her literature, you don’t need to control her thought
17. That makes you the man, like it or not
18. Unless you pay, I will publish this poem on the internet
19. And seek its publication in many of the fine journals offered for sale in your cafe
20. Because I will never, ever forget or forgive it
21. I will never, ever forget or forgive it because you are supposed to be the good guy
22. Meanwhile, and Ingram pay their bills
23. (The other Ingram*)
24. (They were supposed to be the bad guy)
25. (Remember?)
26. (Let me explain)
27. We started with ink and pennies, spit and rickety computers, calligraphy, xerography, non-archival staples
28. From monks to trunks, selling hand-sewn poetry out of cars
29. Keeping that thread of cursive smoke unraveling through the most stupid history
30. We saw Barnes & Noble steamroller over, Walmart out the independent bookseller
31. We saw the great New York publishers (having published without apology the last novel American novel House of Leaves in 2000) treat Paris Hilton and Sarah Palin as authors
32. (It’s true—someone wrote Sarah Palin a book; you sell it in your store—your manager apologized to President Obama about it the day Obama dropped in to buy books for his kids)
33. We believed small stores knew the score, were down with the little guys, underdogs, Samizdat, Non-New-Yorker third-coasters, poets, believers, chapbookers, newlyreads, lemurs in the twilight of giant lizards
34. In the collapsing house of cards, the industry jacking down, spurting the bloody headlines on the PW Newswire, editors beheaded, jobs cut, sales down, starved giants obscene with hunger
35. While entitlement-drunk e-crooks accepted as given that once they won the format battle, readers and writers would line up, wallets out
36. But it would be too late
37. It would have already been the end of the end of an era
38. A structure posing as a distribution network for writers served instead only to render the poet’s cultural power subordinate to a network of imposters posing as “business” overseeing a multi-hundred-dollar industry
39. Poets now taking over
40. Back to basics: we read because we care
41. War, nothing less
42. Literature, literacy, humanity equals the lousy dime you owe
43. Centuries of cultural inertia, freight train approaching a sagging bridge
44. And independent booksellers don’t side with the independent presses?
45. They side with Murdoch and Bertelsmann? The point five percent who own the ninety-nine percent? And by extension their lackeys the billions of Americans who get their poetry from Fox News? Who die every day for lack of what is found there?
46. Because you aren’t the fucking Louvre, dude
47. When Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights will roll William of Spineless Books like a drunk on a subway, greedily savoring the power of the gatekeeper
48. But with power comes responsibility
49. To be honest, or even to openly stand for criminality, but not to evade in the oozy manner of a guilty child or a used car salesman whose handshake is a cold dead limp over-boiled squid, whose permanent slouch spells fear to make eye contact with God
50. Like Brandon at Gotham Books, NYC, a bookstore I would otherwise have remembered fondly
51. Like Ken Rumble at “Internationalist,” who might otherwise have been remembered
52. This isn’t going to be one of those timeless poems, is it?
53. * (I almost said “the real Ingram”—you wouldn’t have liked that, but you’ll build a new world with me or live in theirs)
54. Because we are the good guys
55. Join us

Newspoetry by William at Spineless Books