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A Constituency of Dunces, by Gerald Locklin

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A Constituency of Dunces copyright  © 1988 by Gerald Locklin

Poet Bio
   Gerald Locklin

Sample Poems
   The Best Year of Her Life
   An Uncool Yul
   Minimal Affirmative

Poet Bio

Gerald Locklin

Gerald Locklin teaches English at California State University at Long Beach. He is the author of numerous books of poetry and fiction including The Case of the Missing Blue Volkswagen, The English Mini-Tour, Children of a Lesser Demigogue, and The Death of Jean-Paul Sarte. He has published over a thousand poems, stories, reviews, and articles in The Wormwood Review, Poetry/LA, Pinchpenny, Slipstream, American Scholar, Literary Review, Ambit, Western Humanities Review, Beloit poetry Review, and elsewhere. Three volumes of his work are available in translation in West Germany. In the introduction to one of them, Charles Bukowski calls Gerald Locklin "one of the great undiscovered talents of our time."

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"Billy Jack," from A Constituency of Dunces
read by Gerald Locklin / video by Tim Callinan.
> See Video

Visit the official gerald Locklin Website: www.geraldlocklin.com


The Best Year of Her Life

When my two-year-old daughter
sees someone come through the door
whom she loves, and hasn't seen for a while,
and has been anticipating
she literally shrieks with joy.

I have to go into the other room
so that no one will notice the tears in my eyes.

Later, after my daughter has gone to bed,
i say to my wife,

"She will never be this happy again,"
and my wife gets angry and snaps,
"Don't you dare communicate your negativism to her!"
And, of course, I won't, if I can possibly help it,
and, of course, I fully expect her
to have much joy in her life,
and, of course, I hope to be able
to contribute to that joy—
I hope, in other words, that she'll always
be happy to see me come through the door—

but why kid ourselves—she, like every child,
has a life of great suffering ahead of her,
and while joy will not go out of her life,
she will one of these days cease to actually,
literally, jump and shriek for joy.

© 1988 Gerald Locklin

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An Uncool Yul

a lot of people seem to think
that it's just wonderful how yul brenner,
while he was dying of cancer,
made an anti-smoking commercial
that is playing now,
a year after his death.

they say it's the most effective
anti-smoking commercial ever made.

my first reaction is: what an ignominious
and mechanical form of immortality.

my second is: how old was he anyway? what's
so great about old age? i can testify that
middle age ain't no 24-hour orgasm.

my third thought is that he could at least
have provided a companion commercial
extolling all the joys and pleasures and
triumphs of his life that he associated with tobacco.

if you think I'm a smoker,
you're wrong.
i haven't smoked in twenty years
and i only smoked for a couple of years
when i did. i gave up smoking so that
i wouldn't die thirty years younger
than yul brenner.

but during the time that i smoked,
i really smoked up a storm. i just about out-smoked smokin' joe frazier. i'd come
a-smokin' out of bed each mornin', smoke
a blue streak through my waking hours, and
smoke myself into submission each evening.

if i were to find out today that i were going
to die in a year i suspect that one of the first
things i might do is take up smoking again.
and i really do wonder what, a few years from
now, will be left to us to make each day
worth looking forward to.
© 1988 Gerald Locklin

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Minimal Affirmative

i'm reading in a british book on contemporary
literature a chapter entitled "minimal affirmation,"
which tries to microscopically locate the barely
visible ways in which we

bored betrayed despairing disenchanted
defrocked alienated fragmented impotent
uprooted nihilistic dissipated dissociated
defeatist defeated and indisputably MINOR

writers of the generations since WWII

have conspired to burp forth a barely audible
and i have to run off to give
a poetry reading,
and afterwards, of course, we all congregate
at the reno room to get drunk,

and someone asks me what it was like
teaching college in the 1960s
and without a second thought
i blurt out the eminently un-ennui-like,
"it. . .was. . .

© 1988 Gerald Locklin

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