Deterioration after Joyce

by Rob Carroll


Dilegua, o notte! Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle! All'alba vincerò!
Vincerò! Vincerò!


To you, great Scribe, who left me seeking

The Truth, though I have yet to find it:

I did not walk the lonely path of words

On account of your penultimate work;

It left me reeling, numb, and wond'ring

Which pathway was truly my vocation.

I write this piece in your own method

And desire to do your stories justice.


In the beginning, I found myself waiting, like the Scot

Watching Birnam Wood climb Dunsinane. Yet,

I was not greeted by a Prince.

I did not feel as I'd prepared to —

All awed and cowering from your genius.

No, that was not my feeling; rather

I found myself trembling, calling for more.

I found myself looking through the window, as the

Boy who searched for a pair of candles.

Anesthetized, phlegmatic, and a bit obtuse.

What answers could I find when you were not here

To explain your own ways to me?! I had no Paradisal poet

Bold enough for this endeavor. I had not been so stupid

Since I left posies on a mouses grave.


This feeling was not unlike my first dance with Kind of Blue

And Coltrane; his drugs of sound did not take effect

Until I listened ten times more. Even now I cannot fathom

All his horn had yearned to say. Likewise, your stories disappointed

Until I settled into them.

Given several chances now, I found my ear became

Sophisticated — yearning for your voice. You

Elucidated the seventh circle as the home of the cleric, who

Desecrated Christ, though only in my mind. You

Dictated nothing; I cannot conjure any lyric

Better suited to subtly send you into my own sphere of thought —

Triggered not by words or narration. You

Played with my reactions like a marionette, as

Ravel did in his most enchanting composition.


Why, Writer, were you born into your era?

It could not nurture such an artist.

I pray to see another time like yours, yet I will not.

You have bereft us of all our chances.

You and Prufrock have tightfistedly stolen

All the fuel for future flames.

Not wasted, mind you, though I'm still cold.

I felt the small kindling of the fire as it

Extinguished; an old man fishing

Could not catch the spark again.

Were you to dip your pen into the sea,

I doubt it would find itself newly clean.

No! Your voice would ooze

Like that of an octopus, giddily

Staining all the salty stuff it could sully.


I am reminded of my first Communion. Spoken truly,

I did not feel a single passion, like your boys.


what is it that you want from me?

why do we feel such nothingness?

i cannot find the truth.


i am reminded of the words of corleone at the baptism.

i do

          i do

                    i do

                              i do

do you?


and now that i justly hear your voice

i find the world to be a

cave to which i cannot return.

this is the rotten fruit i chose to devour.

o, if i could find you

i would rip your arms off so that you could no longer —

i would leave you as impotent as xerxes' seven eunuchs,

bleeding black upon the boulevards of your beloved dublin —

no longer would your cancerous brilliance

plague the writers of my era

i would yelp to all the scribes between us


o, you jimmy, you're such a bad boy

you're such a flibbertigibbet

o one day i'll rap your wrists with a ruler

for doing what you've done

you bad boy, you've gone and ruined it for everyone

go and say your penance


et nominee patris, et

filli, et

spiritus sancti



our father, who are in

a dark heaven

hallowed be thy pen and if you write again i'd scream for it

name i would strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious

they kingdom come anger

they will be done is this what they promised you?

on earth as it is deep within the inferno where you sold your

give us this day our daily bread oh we need it jimmy

and forgive us our trespasses look what you've done

as we forgive those that trespass against us you've gone and spilled the

lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil

deliver us from evil

deliver us from evil

deliver us from


i shall win

i shall win


i shall win

you cannot take that from me;

you cannot take life from me;

you have already stolen my words and my thoughts

i shall win the stars shall disperse

the sun shall rise

and i shall win

it shall be your elegy

i will be your wake.


I shall win.