Per Contra Spring 2009 Light Verse Supplement


Back to Archives


Robert Mezey



Eurocentric Rag

I make a lot of money and I have a perfect tan;
I wear Armani clothing, I'm a very fancy Dan;
I've dominated women ever since the world began--
Yes, I'm phallocentric, logocentric, Eurocentric Man!

Oppression is my favorite sport, I play it with élan,
And I scorn the weak and womanish, the sloth, the also-ran;
Let them forage for their dinner in my silver garbage can
And thank their generous benefactor, Eurocentric Man.

I've conquered everybody from Peru to Hindustan
And I make 'em speak my language, though they very rarely can;
I'm the king, the pope, the CEO, the chieftain of the clan--
Yes, I'm phallologo, logophallo, Eurocentric Man!

The beauty with the hothouse grapes, the young boy with the fan
Are only minor luxuries, like my Silver Cloud sedan;
I bet you're very curious about my Master Plan—
I sit and pare my fingernails. I'm Eurocentric, man.



Eight Clerihews


Oscar Wilde
Was most unjustly reviled:
Merely for loving his neighbor
He got two years' hard labor.

Paul Gaugin
Was a ladies' man.
He loved them in Tahiti or Provence--
Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Marianne Moore
Was prim and rather dour,
Not at all the sort of poetess
You might interest in coitus.

Charles Bukowski
Could never find his housekey,
But being a total souse,
He very rarely found his house.

Charles Baudelaire
Mon semblable, mon frère,
What a good mood I'm in,
Stepping out for an evening of sin.

J. S. Bach
At 2 a.m. sighed, "Ach,
Bring me some coffee, I gotta
Finish a cantata."

John Dryden
Never looked for a hole to hide in.
Did he run away from MacFlecknoe?
Heck, no.

George Herbert, John Donne--
You could pick either one.
And what about Sir Philip Sydney?
He wrote some good poems, didney?



Seven Couplets

Of man's first disobedience and the fruit
Comes apple brandy, and the three-piece suit.


"O World, I cannot hold thee close enough!"
Poor Edna whispered, and the world said, "Tough."


“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”
Shelley’s searching question--what a mind.


The poetry of earth is never dead
(Though nowadays it's often sick in bed.)


They that have power to hurt and will do none
Are missing out on every kind of fun.


I walk through the long schoolroom questioning.
The kids don't seem to know a goddamned thing.


I should have been a pair of ragged claws--
Think of the royalties; think of the applause.





Robert Mezey was educated at Kenyon, Iowa, and Stanford; he has taught at Western Reserve, Fresno State, Univ. of Utah, Franklin & Marshall and elsewhere; from 1976 to 2002 he was professor and poet-in-residence at Pomona College, teaching occasionally at the Claremont Graduate School.

His poems and translations have been appearing since 1953 in many journals, including New York Review of Books, Paris Review, Hudson Review, New Yorker, New Republic, Raritan, TLS, Partisan Review, Poetry, Kenyon Review, Yale Review, New Criterion, New Letters and so on. His poems can be found in nearly a hundred anthologies. Translations of many of them have appeared in Italy, Spain, Israel, and Greece.

His books of verse include THE LOVEMAKER, A BOOK OF DYING, WHITE BLOSSOMS, THE DOOR STANDING OPEN, SMALL SONG, COUPLETS, SELECTED TRANSLATIONS, EVENING WIND, and COLLECTED POEMS 1952-1999. He has edited ten books, including NAKED POETRY, POEMS OF THE AMERICAN WEST [Everyman], THOMAS HARDY: SELECTED POEMS [Penguin Classics], THE POETRY OF E. A. ROBINSON [Modern Library], and A WORD LIKE FIRE: THE SELECTED POEMS OF DICK BARNES. With the late Dick Barnes he has translated all of Borges’ poems, many of which have appeared in journals and magazines.

Awards: Robert Frost Prize, the Lamont (for THE LOVEMAKER); an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; a PEN prize and a Bassine Citation (for EVENING WIND); the Poets Prize (for the COLLECTED POEMS); the Barnstone Translation Prize; the Trustees’ Medal of Merit from Pomona College; an honorary doctorate from Kenyon College; and fellowships from the Ingram Merrill and Guggenheim Foundations and from the National Endowment for the Arts.
He has given hundreds of readings and talks at such venues as Yale, UCLA, Duke, Kenyon, Brown, Dartmouth, Boston U, Vassar, Princeton, Virginia, Bryn Mawr, Penn, USC, Columbia, Tufts, Wellesley, Reed, Oberlin, Georgetown, MIT, Occidental, Bennington, Ohio State, North Carolina, Michigan, Amherst, Sarah Lawrence, Miami, Iowa, Syracuse, Stanford and many others; in Europe (Suffolk and Madrid); at poetry centers such as Beyond Baroque and the New York YMHA; at MLA, ALTA and ALSC conventions; at the Clark, Huntington and Donnell Libraries; at the Guggenheim Museum; & at festivals celebrating the work of Robinson, Hardy, Kees, and James Wright.

His work has been praised by such fellow-poets as Mark Strand, Donald Justice, Rosanna Warren, Henri Coulette, Thom Gunn, John Hollander and W. S. Merwin.


© 2005-2009 Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas