April 10th, 2006

Mask

Regarding the State of Modern Poets

As your eyes meet these words and decipher them, it fits all evidence that you are a reader. If you are a reader, then it is also likely that you have tried your hand at writing, and indeed, if you have tried your hand at writing, then it is not too much to suggest that you might have tried your hand at poetry. For this, I forgive you. It happens to many of us; it’s not a crime so long as we try to repress it.

It is misleading to suggest that I hate poetry. A more precise description of my feelings would be that I despise amateur poetry. But these poems, these vile, emoting words, strung together like rotting heads on a chain, are only the sin, and not the sinner. For more than the poetry itself, I loathe the vain bastards behind those muddled, voyeuristic works.

I view amateur poetry in the same way as masturbation; I do not believe that there is inherent evil in the act, but I think that it is a private behavior best done where there is no possibility of it being viewed by children. I have no quarrel with those who choose to write disjointed flowery poems about how their girlfriend dumped them (ah, infinite immortal sadness) I just think they should keep that shit where no one can see it. Perhaps such words, if not immediately burned, could be kept stacked between pornographic magazines or locked in a safe out of public view.

I have some friends who write poetry. Knowing my proclivities, and my violent, superhuman outbursts, they are kind enough to hide most of their poetry where I can’t see it. For example, my friend Megan often writes poetry, producing little turd-like objects called “chapbooks” and writing in blank, leather-bound books. I am aware that she is somehow involved in some kind of support group for poets, where they actually get together and read the vile stuff to each other. I try not to let these things bother me, after all, everyone has their faults. For example, I am impulsively violent toward amateur poets; throwing them into vats of acid, putting pens through their eyes and other various acts of spontaneous brutality. I realize that this behavior is counterproductive and cruel. After all, amateur poets are inspired by angst and pain, and rather than putting my energy into single acts of terror I should be plotting ahead to bring about the doom of amateur poets everywhere, but as I mentioned, I have my faults.

You may ask: What terrible traumatic events in your past lead you to hate poetry in the vehement and violent way that you do today? Or perhaps you are not asking yourself this; perhaps you are asking yourself where you might find some good coffee. I only bring this question up because that is what that poor student asked me at the “Slam Poetry Jam” that I stumbled in on last week. I was trying to get a good cup of coffee when I found these, people; I suppose I should call them, actually reading their spunk aloud to each other. I immediately did what any rational person would do in this situation, which was to carefully, methodically start lighting tables on fire. As the chaos of burning poets grew to its peak, I took the chief offender, who had been reading his swill aloud when I came in, and dragged him to the back of the shop, and proceeded to beat him with his moleskin notebook. You might argue that a moleskin notebook is actually quite soft, but in this you would underestimate the equally soft and easily bruised skin of amateur poets. I’m no martial artist, but I have beaten sixty poets in a duel and come away only with paper cuts. Ah, that was a fine day. . .

But I was speaking about my motivations, the scarred history, the darkened past that explains my hatred for all amateur poetry. For a long time, I thought I had heard the worst of all the pickup lines in history. From the guy at the club who asked me if I liked my own boobs (I do) to the drunk boy at the party who informed that that he would tell me if I didn’t look good, but since I did look good, we should go hit it together (we did not). When friends would discuss the worst pick up lines they had ever heard, I would bring up these occasions and we all would have a hearty laugh.

Then, when I was eighteen, I had a boyfriend named Doug. He was a handsome young man, with pretty green eyes and a broad smile. Although I am not what is commonly known as a “butt person” I have to admit that even I was impressed by the tightness and roundness of his butt. I once bounced a quarter off of it, just to see if such things were actually possible. On the morning of the day that I discovered my hatred of poetry, I might have told you that I loved him. I remember it happened in his dorm room; we sat down together on his bed. It is an important fact about dorm rooms that there is no place to sit other than the bed, were this not the case, many hookups may have never been. Doug took my hands in his and told me that he cared for me as he has cared for no other person. I remember his eyes got all wet, and I hugged him and he hugged me and he told me he has something important to share with me.

“I’ve never showed this to anyone before” Doug said, and he took a notebook down from his shelf. It was one of those mottled black and white notebooks, and it had silver gum wrappers glued to the cover.

“This is my book of poetry.” He said “I’ve never read it to anyone, but I want to share this with you. He opened the book, and in it, there was writing in a violet pen. The fact alone should have tipped me off that something terrible was in store. “I’ve been writing in this since I was fourteen years old.” Doug told me.

At that point, in my memory, I sort of black out. I remember the first bit of poetry was about his mother, and I believe that there were many poems regarding his black mood swings and his love of girls who weren’t interested in him. When he closed the book, I backed away from him slowly.

“Listen.” I said “I don’t think we should see each other anymore.” I ran out of the room.

I didn’t speak to him after that. I tried not to look at him. I burned all the pictures I had of him. Later, he married a stripper. It’s like that with all my ex-boyfriends. My first married a woman without a vagina, my second married a stripper, my third scarred his own face, my fifth lives in New Jersey*, and well, you get the idea. What I’m trying to tell you is that sometimes, when I’m alone, trying to decide if I should organize my socks by color or texture, I still hear those little phrases, those incestuous words, rubbing against each other.

Alone, Alone.
I’m so alone.
The girls, they don’t like me.
I can’t grow a beard.

When anyone asks me why I prefer women, I tell them this story.


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* This is a lie, none of my ex-boyfriends live in New Jersey. I just wanted to impress you.
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