Oh! Oh! Thank you and — oh! I suppose it would be the height of irony if words failed me at this moment. Because I fear they very well may! I had jotted down a few remarks of gratitude, really just a few, and I thought they were here in the jacket of my tuxedo, but I see now that I am wearing the wrong tuxedo! Better that, I suppose, than accepting the wrong prize, don’t you think? (Laughter from the Committee.) If anyone can locate the gentleman just awarded the prize for Economics — for all I know he may still be in the washroom — I do hope someone can please alert him to this ludicrous mistake on my part? How on earth —! I suppose what happened is that we had both removed our jackets to wash our hands, you see, and then one has to remove the French cuffs, too, and of course I am not used to wearing them, cufflinks, given that I have spent the past ever how many years really quite poor, in fact completely naked while sitting on a block of ice and writing poetry in a government-funded garret — thank you, National Endowment for the Humanities! But as I say I am unaccustomed to cuffs, to either the putting on of them or the taking off — and one cufflink, you see, fell into a sink full of cold soapy water and — kerplash! — (Enthusiastic applause from the Committee.)
Thank you, thank you so much. It is a beautiful word, is it not? Kerplash! And I shall speak, in a moment, once I can collect my thoughts — and tuxedo jacket — (Supportive chortles from the Committee.) — I say, when my thoughts are collected I will speak of my lifelong devotion to the writing of onomatopoeic verse. Actually, “what the hey,” I may as well speak quickly of it now, since I have somehow arrived at the subject. Let me tell you, then, that I am swept away by the very word, onomatopoeia, like a dry dead leaf sent racing across concrete by the autumn wind — skeet-skeet-skeet-skeet-skreee. The glory of onomatopoeic verse of course is that it is universal. It is as effortless, in the reading, as when one opens the window and in floats the tweet of a bird or the grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr of a rabid dog just before the local sheriff shoots it dead — ffffpt! — using one of the new silencers recently ordered by the township. Or one hears that instantly recognizable phhhhhhhhwahhhh, spwah spwah worrrrrooooooaw — am I right? (Hesitant clapping from the Committee.) Yes, I knew you would know — the sound of the big eighteen-wheelers as they make their way up the rain-puddled New Jersey Turnpike just before dawn! (“Bravos” from the Committee.) Oh, thank you! Thank you!
Oh! Where was I? Goodness! — my heart is so full I can only stand here and jabber on like Ophelia whirling in the waters of the Jacuzzi. Fwarf fwarf fwarf. And you know I do wonder — ha ha ha ha ha ha — what sort of speech the Economics recipient will give when he arrives at the podium and reaches into his tuxedo jacket and produces my remarks! Because… I see here…. I have his notes… here… and it looks to be an elaborate diagram that shows supply and demand copulating like two snakes. And out of this comes a parabola, labeled “the Laffer cobra,” and I should imagine that as it rises from its basket it wags a hideous little tongue and makes a tiny hiss — Thitha-thitha-thitha-thitha-thhhhhssssss! (Oohs and aahs from the Committee.) Thank you. Thank you.
Oh, oh, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! You cannot know how nervous — And I — oh, oh, ha ha ha — Oops! (Gasps from the Committee.) I am so sorry! Forgive me! But it is such a heavy trophy, is it not? Heavy and big and cumbersome, and my hands are slick with sweat. And I do not see — no, no damage other than a scarcely noticeable dent in the snout.
Very well. I should really wrap it up. Please bear with me — and _please_do not strike up the band — as I rattle off a few names that simply must be mentioned. John Milton! Johnny, you said it best. “They also serve who stand and wait on tables.” Wallace Stevens — dear Wallace, dear friend, who was nominated for this very prize seven times, and when he finally received the honorary award and was already dead he was still so grateful — and humble! I treasure that man’s humility so much, and I hope I shall not now become that way myself. And of course I must say how honored I am even to have been allowed to compete alongside Miss Maya Angelou. I believe I saw her in the front? (Maya Angelou stands and air-kisses the entire Committee.) I would also like to dedicate this award to a poet far worthier than I — Mr. Czeslaw Milosz! (Closeup of Milosz, beaming with embarrassment.) I would have been equally as honored not to win, cher maitre, if only to see you walk home with your second Nobel!
Lastly, I dedicate this to all young persons who would dream of a life in poetry. I would tell them — thank heaven, I am finally remembering some of my intended comments — I would tell them, do not give up! The world needs poetry, whether or not it ever gets read, or even published, or even written, or even thought up, just as we need new suites for the harpsichord and new hunchbacks for all the great cathedrals of France. We do matter! I once, myself, did not dare hope ever to stand here before you today. After I had been accepted into the dubious fraternity of the Sharks and, beneath a thin sliver of pale moon, killed my first Jet with a swift and pitiless knife thrust — ooff! —
Ah, I see my time is up. Here is the lovely and talented Penelope Cruz to escort me into the wings. Thank you all. Right now I love you all so much! Good night!