Writing wretched verse so you don’t have to since 1995.
She told me how, as a
girl, she slept each night
with a different stuffed
animal to make the
This bore no special
meaning, that you came
here tonight in a
hat that hides your eyes
to be friends.
What is it that you want from me?
A measure of my misery?
My clenched respect?
You are a viper, weaving spells,
My pity goes out to he who opens
your lovely basket
The best possible reason to become a poet is not so you can write a petty revenge poem aimed a woman who spurned you. It’s so you can write a petty revenge poem in which you compare the woman who spurned you to a snake. (See Shakespeare, William, Sonnet 18, Draft One, “Shall I Compare Thee to an Incontinent Anaconda?”)
The extra cool thing about this poem is that it was written about a woman who was actually a poet. She had been a lawyer, I think. She was from Texas. She had a big lovely ass and a droopy nose I was ready to ignore. She played the drums. One night she invited me over for pasta. I watched her drain that pasta in a colander over the sink, give it one merciless extra little shake at the end and the ensuing sway of her soft parts. I was so lonely at that moment I would have dated that colander. Afterwards, we sat on her couch, or maybe it was her bed, and watched a bunch of Olympic gymnasts slamming their little pistons into various bars.
This woman had been married and divorced which, God help me, I found sexy. We were friends for several months, confidantes, real pals. She taped poems to her wall and I read them and nodded. I couldn’t make sense of them, but I assumed that was my problem. She was a genius and her haired smelled of lavender. It was obvious we were either going to fuck or start to hate each other or, what seemed most likely, fuck and then start to hate each other. But it never happened. She wouldn’t let me even kiss her on the mouth. She had a boyfriend down south, a younger man she kept on the side, and later she dated a fuzzy-knuckled British drug dealer.
I told myself she was afraid of my “intensity.” But I was crazy back then, vibrating with grievance, like Travis Bickle without the charisma.
Still, that story she told me – about her stuffed animals. I mean, what kind of emotional thug does such things? Maybe, in retrospect, she was sort of begging me to commemorate her manipulations in a lousy plug of hate speech. Maybe she wanted me to write about the night when she came over and crushed my stupid hopes. There was a stretch there when I would have sworn this woman was my soulmate. But I didn’t know anything at all.
Don’t you hate it when people you love pretend you don’t love them? Isn’t that what makes us shout in grief?
Submit your bad poetry to Steve Almond’s Bad Poetry Corner: