Howard Firkin
I saw the best lines of my generation
contort, then wither, wrinkle, scorch, and burn:
I saw their thin flames flare, subside, and turn
to ash. The furnace of your declamation
too fierce, too constant, too damn bloody hot.
So Walt, I’m leaving off my reading now.
Back to your shelf. Back to the dog-eared school
anthologies. Impress the kids—they’re cool
with old poofs now, or say so, anyhow,
but pricks like me resent the hold you’ve got.

The young will worship still—same every age—
our one defence: to smile and criticise,
and glower, feverless in lukewarm rage,
and covet, curse, and claim, and plagiarise.