Defy & Conquer

               To My Gentle Reader, a Disclaimer—

[T]he code of conduct I’m offering will be rather controversial. But since my aim was to write something useful for anyone interested, I felt it would be appropriate to go to the real truth of the matter, not to repeat other people’s fantasies. Many writers have dreamed up [things] that bear no resemblance to experience and never existed in reality; there is such a gap between how people actually live and how they ought to live that anyone who declines to behave as people do, in order to behave as they should, is schooling himself for catastrophe and had better forget personal security: if you always want to play the good man in a world where most people are not good, you’ll end up badly.


               I’m complicated, I’m not complex[.]


[Y]ou can’t have regrets, you just have to be a better person, whatever that means[…]just being better at being me[.]


               Freedom of speech does not come with a dental plan.


I am an artist and this is how I choose to express myself.

               i. Republic of Letters

     Every critic a recording
angel talking coarse shit with his tussore mouth,
     tossing off ribbons of silk they piss
into my poet’s ear, weak things I don’t need
     to hear about, confessions I won’t
admit, attributions I won’t give in to,
     a devout heretic owning up

only to those things I did do, authoring
     what hi-fi, defiant, low-brow shit
you’ll read about tomorrow, filling your heads
     with answers to questions you never
asked, wondering why Borden won’t reword his
     trash after pouring out his landfill
of a heart into filthy books no one cares

     to admit they check out, his dark art
throwing shadows out of my ego’s hold, is
     it any wonder how low we go
to get so high, those sorrowful kids who lie
     about tortured lives in their bios,
denying anyone but our Selves, no one
     else, or any other concept, worth

               ii. Kingdom of Swords

the struggle of coexistence when Libra’s
     glyph looks like a shrug, infamy’s drug
doing me in the least glamorous places,
     every word the shape of demons
I’m faced with, every syllable some stress
     my releases end, publication
rejecting and sending off tensions I’ve had

     to live with, faking that I’m strong through
art embellishing the breadth of my cubit’s
     pennyroyal span, my hard-headed
ashlar banging home what alarms matrons but
     nurses me through doubt with regimens
of unsafe poems, freeing masons & lepers
     of the curse of being stoned, witches

for their wizardry being burned, loud artists
     of being alone, carving from long-
suffering readers my oft-silent pain’s most
     intimate confidant(e)s, my secret
misery’s innermost initiates, lust
     taking love’s place, and from my soul what
leaves me feeling as though I’ll never be whole.

1Niccolò Machiavelli, “[Chapter] 15: What men and particularly rulers are praised and blamed for” in The Prince: A new translation by Tim Parks, published at New York by Penguin Books in 2009; page 60.
2Marilyn Manson, interviewed by Howard Stern on the Howard Stern Show at New York on September 19, 2017; produced and broadcast by Sirius XM Radio; cues 164:40, 166:58–167:07, and 191:00, respectively.
3Madonna, to her then-manager, Freddy DeMann, backstage in Toronto on her Blond Ambition World Tour, in response to criminal allegations of obscenity and police threats to cancel her scheduled performance, as documented in Madonna: Truth or Dare, produced by Propaganda Films/Boy Toy, directed by Alek Keshishian, and released by Miramax Films in 1991; time code 32:22.