Whether with words silken soft
or words chiseled deep and hard,
they compose poetry oft
like the tonedeaf, clueless bard
braying loudly in the square
and never, ever on key,
defiling the country air—
like a bug-bitten donkey.
The emperor wears no clothes,
but he is layered in words—
word to word, the weaving shows
no sense given in ten words.
Layered in motley and phrase
signifying but nothing
as he grandstands in a daze
his wardrobe nought but stuffing.
His word-robe’s a collection
of kitschy artifice sewn
without any reflection
as he struts around his throne.
And all his little vassals
praise his “beautiful” word choice,
proving those in their castles
require no meaningful voice
to rule tasteless sycophants
and such obsequious friends,
never needing fashion sense
when he decrees the new trends.
Tailors can patch together
such words that are as mismatched
as “puppy-love” and “tanned leather”,
no one scoffing at what’s patched.
But a truthful little boy
will still have his honest word,
and though it may well annoy
he must point out the absurd:
“Your words don’t mean anything,”
the boy says, “They’re just random.
Randomness never does bring
more poetry in tandem.
Rather, it’s a game of chance,
a lottery that is drawn
in service to happenstance
as you babble on and on.”
Alas, the boy’s committed
as a blind, deaf, and dumb mute,
all thinking him slow-witted
while the Fool, being astute,
(as all Fools must truly be)
commends his ruler, then smirks,
and, smirking, asks, “How came thee
unto such masterful works?”
“Whatever words come to me,”
the Emperor says, “I jot,
but give it little mind—see?
For nothing ruins like thought.”
The Fool laughs. “Aye, by my troth,
that seems with little thought seamed,”
he says, though none become wroth
at the slight he thereby schemed,
for they are clueless cattle
all chewing meaningless cud,
praising pretentious prattle
like children playing in mud.
“Jabberwocky,” the Fool notes,
“has been used by Popes and Kings,
just like weasel words, or stoats,
to tout many inane things
while meaning nothing at all
save to rule by inanity.”
The Fool tumbled down the hall,
lest they hear his sanity.
“But we also must reflect
on such poetry and how
the Dunning-Kruger effect
steals sense from every brow.”
There are cockroaches scurrying
in the jumbled salad bowl
of the midnight special,
unashamed within the neon light
of this downtown diner.
Do not try to persuade me
that they are almonds
as the other patrons praise the chef
and vomit profusely on the counter.
It is not flattery
to kiss someone
in pretense of praising
only to steal from their lips
the beautiful petals
that have blossomed there.
Innumerable millennia of evolution—
of toil and struggle and sacrifice
and immeasurable gallons of
sweat and tears and blood—
and thousands of years of
all so a satellite orbiting earth can
the video feed of a Swedish woman
drilling herself with a silicone dildo
mass-produced in China
and send it via encoded super-info highways
to a pubescent boy in Australia
so he can watch it on his smart phone
as he takes a quick wank before
heading to school
to nod off in class
as the monotone teacher talks in utter
about Medieval mortality rates.
A teenager squeals his tires
at the change of the traffic light,
his Mustang roaring down Main Street
like a young lion in rut
ready to take on any old beast
for the privilege of his pride.
Meanwhile I take an easy, leisurely pace behind
knowing this is likely the only
he will give any rubber tonight
and thinking of my
wife waiting at home
ready for some happy
her green light saying
GO! GO! GO!
After a few seconds the young dude
putters down to the
as if embarrassed by his
He turns off at a sidestreet,
Mustang grumbling curses
at another luckless Saturday night
spent revving his engine
for no one at all.
Poetry would be better as a
it would be better
a scalding bitter tea
Poetry can be a
if you should like,
but should never be
and easily forgotten.
It should not be
An unapologetic rebuttal to the praise of Maggie Smith’s poem “Good Bones” and, generally speaking, the poetry publishing world at large.
Life is too short for
a dime a thousand, ill-advised
and to be kept from children
lest they prematurely age into
cynics, or worse,
The published poetry world is at least
fifty percent terrible,
and that is not a
For every such Aryan-Carrion bird
there is a
hundred bones to be picked at
by the more modern among us.
For every adored confessional poem, I confess
another mediocre poem
too many, sunken into its own
bland language, collapsing as it is
eaten up with terminal
osteoporosis. Life is short and
the poetic world is at least half
blandness, and for every trite poem
in the collective consciousness,
there is a thousand that would
humbling sobriety and
A kind stranger might do well to
from your banal habit of beautification.
Nor can subversion save unremarkable
imagery or diction. It is not that
is not beautiful,
such as any fragrant flower
wilting and dissolving into
but that your perfume is nothing more than
being celebrated by Lotus Eaters
who have forgotten, in this time of
the stress-test standards of
and so deprive their children
of a world not sold to
suburban planning and
the lowest common denominator.
The poetic world is a real
and nothing about its
could ever redeem the
dead pledge of its
even as pretentious publishing elites
lounge arrogantly alongside
Motel 6 swimming pools.
Just like in the realty market,
anyone can be a poet,
but that does not mean that
any of them know what they are
while touring the downtown neighborhood,
nor does it prevent the next
when all such propped-up poems
collapse under their own
oversold listing price.
Even if you can talk up
it does not mean that you
have a good foundation to start with.
It is, at best,
with a vista into your neighbor’s
backyard, which happens to be
identical to your own.
You could make this poem beautiful,
you would only make it