Tradition and the Individual Talent

by Scott Bailey

Wee-wee-sweet-pea me?

I live, I weep, a third of me 

passed in sleep, 


start a scene or two, 

play and dance the fool, 


roll back the curtain for the muse. 

I live for depth, less so a lengthy life, 

          nor deny the natural order of things, 

  but must I be swept so soon 

to the sweet by and by?

Life's always so, so pleasing, 

      so why should death be so displeasing?

O Death, so kind, so cruel, graciously unfair, 

    such a trump card, such a trollop, common denominator, 

    master and servant to class.

O Life, to live, to be a rare steak less traveled by.

Why just exist?

    That's not it at all, not at all—

to the point of tears, 

get-up-and-go, oomph, brio, orbit, yo-yo, 

strut, fret, fetch, 

                            keep the wolf from the door, 


    scratch where it itches, 

  pull some nothing from thin air, 


rush, stir, trip, wear and tear.

I walk upon the earth, spared another day, 

another hour upon the stage. 


    A motor with a plan, 

I am man, 

        homo, member, party, 

      I bust a nut, kick, yield, recording my days, 

intent, tone, heart, spirit, 

    a life sentence,

        no shame, no game, 

I question, seek, shall not always find, 

I backup on a dead-end road,

look up, look down upon, 

sympathize with an ant 


      carrying a wing over mountainous mud, dirt, scum.

I waste time, murder, create, anticipate, 

                stub my toe 

    where I come and go, O, O, O, O,  


O,     Sticky-Sweet Peach, 

             come home, pull up a chair, 

    cast a spell 

            on my chinny-chin chin. 


 I rather be cross-eyed—

      one eye that talks shit to the other,

      than not see at all, 


  cut out my tongue if not cheeky

—superbe! magnifique!—

     if I'm to be a ragged claw, 

      cantankerous, impermeable membrane, 

             a closed field with shards of glass among blades of grass.

I rather be be-headed, served on a platter, 

if denied a full head of hair, 

fingers run through my hair.

O, Open Field, 

measureless,        perpetual uncertainty, 


dance with me under the honky moonlight,  

in broad daylight, 

              do me roughly half a day but all night long, 


in the quickening of the night, 


the quiet, quite-loud night, 

owls echoing dactyls and spondees, 

        thrashers tweeting thank-you's.


          Bump me, I bump back, 

atqui vivere militare est,

la petite mort, each day, s'il vous plait.

  I will not end it all on a railroad, 

       take a colossal heroine-hit, 

kneel on grits, 

  slip on soap, 

    eat poisonous, cherry pie. 

Amen, thunderous whisper.