(Writing wretched verse so you don’t have to since 1995)
I am long tired
of the tyranny
those staid and stoic
of stupid children
to tease with
bursts of leaves
not quite red
when we need
in winter dismay,
roots rising from glazed
ground just enough
to buckle wayward toes.
I wish upon
nothing but blights
root rot –
anything to canker
to strip them
Make them share,
for a season’s single second
of flesh that fears.
Yes, that’s right. It’s the trees’ fault! Those arrogant pines! Those duplicitous sycamores! With their stupid bark. And their stupid leaves. Kill the trees, I say! Who’s with me?
Okay, how about if we just write a poem projecting all our histrionic self-loathing onto the trees? Would that make anyone feel better? What if we make this “poem” all tall and skinny – like an actual tree? And what if we restrain from the use of commas for no apparent reason? And if we make essentially arbitrary line breaks? Yes? Any takers?
See, this is what I hate about being a Bad Poet. Nobody’s ever with you! Nobody ever gets how iconoclastic your shit is. The Bad Poet never gets any extra credit for eschewing the safe opinion. (We don’t even get extra credit for using the verb eschew.) All those Sierra Club poets writing their elegies to the lonely forest, their paeans to the wine dark sea – ass kissers, all of them. Bucolic toadies. Robert Frost, meet Stevie Fucking Chainsaw.
Because, see, my point here, the big mind-blowing revelation that arrives only when you ditch the conventional wisdom and take the dangerous spiritual path of the Bad Poet, is, uh, well … Trees Are Fucking Heartless. They don’t feel pain. They don’t suffer.
If you did a statistical breakdown of my thousands of bad poems – a task that perhaps awaits you in hell – you would find that 99 percent of them are about suffering. Not any specific occasion of suffering, mind you, but the generalized state so familiar to adolescents, and so frequently commemorated by them in journals with poems of the approximate opacity and bombast that I would achieve, a mere 20 years north of my own adolescence – journals, I might add, almost always made of paper.
Fucking Mr. Bruce Butters, of Klutzhaven, MI, is our next fucking contestant. His precise feelings about trees remain unknown.
From Des Moines, from Birmingham, from Reno we came
To rhapsodize the darker land.
It echoes even now, our anthem of the other world.
Of water, air, compelling tides of stone, the song–
Trees danced and fell.
Books in America tell today
How good it is to die,
The sleepy needing sleep. At this
Enormous hearts explode with joy!
This is why the children jump in jellied gasoline.
The mouth within us sings,
The song compels us to the dance.
Kill yourself, the music says,
But do the others first.
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