Streams

Charles Bernstein

Friday, April 22, 2005

Charles Bernstein reads "Ballad of a Girly Man." He has been at theforefront of poetry's avant-garde for three decades. Along with BruceAndrews, Bernstein edited the influential journal L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, heco-founded and serves as the Executive Editor of The Electronic Poetry Center, and he recently launched PennSound, a digital poetry archive that makes performances of poets from Guillaume Apollinaire to Kenneth Koch available for download and exchange. His recent books include With Strings and My Way: Speeches and Poems.

Music: Chicago Underground Duo (Chad Taylor and Rob Mazurek) - "Lifelines" - from the album Axis and Alignment from Thrill Jockey

The Ballad of the Girlie Man For Felix

The truth is hidden in a veil of tears
The scabs of the mourners grow thick with fear

A democracy once proposed
Is slimmed and grimed again
By men with brute design
Who prefer hate to rime

Complexity's a four-letter word
For those who count by nots and haves
Who revile the facts of Darwin
To worship the truth according to Halliburton

The truth is hidden in a veil of tears
The scabs of the mourners grow thick with fear

Thugs from hell have taken freedom's store
The rich get richer, the poor die quicker
& the only god that sanctions that
Is no god at all but rhetorical crap

So be a girly man
& take a gurly stand
Sing a gurly song
& dance with a girly sarong

Poetry will never win the war on terror
But neither will error abetted by error

We girly men are not afraid
Of uncertainly or reason or interdependence
We think before we fight, then think some more
Proclaim our faith in listening, in art, in compromise

So be a girly man
& sing this gurly song
Sissies & proud
That we would never lie our way to war

The girly men killed christ
So the platinum DVD says
The Jews & blacks & gays
Are still standing in the way

We're sorry we killed your god
A long, long time ago
But each dead solider in Iraq
Kills the god inside, the god that's still not dead.

The truth is hidden in a veil of tears
The scabs of the mourners grow thick with fear

So be a girly man
& sing a gurly song
Take a gurly stand
& dance with a girly sarong

Thugs from hell have taken freedom's store
The rich get richer, the poor die quicker
& the only god that sanctions that
Is no god at all but rhetorical crap

So be a girly man
& sing this gurly song
Sissies & proud
That we would never lie our way to war

The scabs of the mourners grow thick with fear
The truth is hidden in a veil of tears

Note: This is the full text of the poem. Charles Bernstein read an abbreviated version for us.

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Charles Bernstein

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