Doomers can google that name as well as I and discover that, like The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit, Professor Fussell simply sucked up his WWII-earned PTSD and carried on as one of those many anonymous Greatest Generation guys Brokaw completely missed.
It’s appropriate he died (“passed away” would be silly in his case, such men die) so close to Memorial Day.
My homage will be a bit different. I’m a Canadian poet, an old fashioned “page poet” if you want to listen to the new generation of spoken-word artists and poetry slam competitors. A lot of us reacted to the modernism of Eliot et al. by returning to structures, and not a few of us can lay our hands on a dog-eared copy of Fussell’s Poetic Meter and Poetic Form (rev. 1979). As luck would have it, it was just a month ago that I workshopped a new draft with my five Dublin Street Poets colleagues that alluded to this very influence.
I’d like to imagine that he would have appreciated his name appearing in a pastiche of Sonnet 145, and furthermore that he might have been tickled by the idea of LL 7-8 morphing into a ghazal couplet, resulting in a crash at the turn, which is perhaps also curiously appropriate on the weekend of the Indianapolis 500.
Poetica my Ars
Tis Sunday, you can see me smudge
This keyboard full of fits of rage
Then package up the steaming drudge
And send it to a rag: New Page!
Today’s paper heralds Fussell
Is reject of the book awards:
Weeps the new-cut honeysuckle
Noon-moon light on sword (rhymes with “guzzle?”)
Forgive me, reader, if I ply
Emotions that the reptiles hate.
Some things in here refuse to die
And Nevil says it’s getting late.
Perhaps it’s time to crack some Pound
Before I join him under ground.
John Wise McLeod
Halifax, Canada, April 29, 2012