(Writing wretched verse so you don’t have to since 1995)
How We See the Aged
A woman pulls at the pilled pleat
of her seersucker skirt with one hand,
as she speaks to a gentlemen friend
about the state of the rolls at Winter
Hill Bakery. An indulgence close to home,
light enough to carry.
Enacting a curtsy once, again,
fabric pinched between thumb and finger,
lifted away from her dry flanks
as if with this small grace to erase
the grey whiskers so thick
and horribly noticed upon her chin.
You know how sometimes, in the early drafts of your early stories, when you were trying really hard to signal that a particular character was worthy of contempt, and how you did that was that you gave them a wart, or bad breath, or you made them all eat like slobs, with their mouths open, and spit food when they talked? Yeah, that really sucked. But what would have sucked even worse is if, in the course of making those mean observations about someone’s frailties and blemishes, you thought you were actually being sensitive and poetic. If you thought, in other words, that it was your job to suffer all the world’s ugliness and to convert that ugliness into words so swollen with empathy that the reader would give you a blowjob. And you needed that blowjob, mind you, because you were living alone in a dusty cave and scaring even your closest friends away, and mistaking this situation as a function of your relentless quest for the truth, your passionate desire to utter the unbearable, when, in fact, you were just being another indulgent fake artiste asshole who had mistaken your selfish anxieties with artistic duty.
Also: seersucker skirt?
And dry flanks.
Someone should have clubbed me in the head with a dry flank. But then I would have written another poem. That’s always the problem. You can’t attack a bad poet – it just makes us stronger. What I wouldn’t give to have that kind of resilience again.
But enough about my doubt. What about your doubt? Ah yes, here it is. Ms. Kronda Adair writes in from Succotash, PA, to ask, “Is my name really Kronda, or am I just making that up?” I have no idea, Kronda.
These sonnet rules do cause the mind to rage
Time ticks away, the deadline doth approach
Though inspiration shines upon the page
The lines resist all efforts to be coached
into neat rhythms tied up with a bow
encased in fourteen lines measured in fives
There must be well kept tricks that I don’t know
which give eternity to poet’s lives
That Shakespeare makes a student’s life pure hell
Examples lofty in their faultless prime
Just three more lines before the sounding bell
At least I’ll fin’lly turn one in on time!
In time and hist’rys dimming light shall fade
This poem and (a hopef’lly) passing grade
I hereby award you an A- in Bad Poetry. Run home and tell your m’ma.