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This issue of JACKET is a co-production with SALT magazine
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Alfred Corn

Alice’s Rules

Any behavior even suggesting restraint
should expect a faceful of cream pie. Be free
or else. How’d they say do it? "Thanks, I’ve got
other plans," and, these put into effect, steal home,
veer off at a tangent, whatever, so you won’t be
boxed in and made to fess up. Prefer the faux
marble urn to the "real," a malicious fake, and harp
on what was never thought but oft expressed
so as to convey the contraband being imported.
An offensive is most when delivered deadpan,
no mouthed butter melting as the loom is bowered.
"Know what I’m saying?" we say, hedging our bets
when we hog the mike, lest the players trip over
the ferns or refuse to use flamingos for their mallets.

Today man (or woman) is guaranteed to feel
a lot more like now than was true yesterday —
depending, granted, on which day we’re talking
and on whose nickel. In the city of Dis, junkie
and disc-jockey smote the chest, crumpling
posies meant to impress the Empress with.
"Please come in and perch in front of my latest
mirror writing while we punt up the river Lapis,
whose surface dimples with parodic fleur-de-lis."
Collection amounts to a new Fleurs du mal?
They’ll have to squawk and earn it first. Then be
proclaimed a touchdown, toast of the capital —
though still hard-pressed, a burn-victim of ironic
and amped-up malingerers. The loyals, meanwhile,
need to scrape together a little support, each two
of us pitching in, a-pelting ye olde dodos with sugared
almonds. Numbing out on a nemesis so manual as that,
what’ll we ens and ems have to say for ourselves?

Photo of Alfred CornAlfred Corn's Stake: Selected Poems, 1972-1992 appeared in 1999, a selection from the first six books of his poetry. In the same year, a translation of Aristophanes Frogs, was published in the Penn Greek Drama series. He is the author of a novel titled Part of His Story, a collection of critical essays, The Metamorphoses of Metaphor, and a study of prosody, The Poem's Heartbeat. He has taught at Yale, the University of Cincinnati, U.C.L.A., Ohio State University, and the University of Tulsa. At present he teaches in the Graduate Writing Program at Columbia. A frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review and The Nation, he also writes art criticism for Art in America and ARTnews magazines. He lives in New York City.

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This issue of Jacket is a co-production with SALT magazine,
an international journal of poetry and poetics, edited by John Kinsella
PO Box 937, Great Wilbraham, Cambridge PDO, CB1 5JX United Kingdom

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