I am the crushed cereal at the bottom of the box
Your last clean pair of underwear you only wear on laundry day
The popped balloon left in the balloon seller’s hand at
The end of the day when he goes back to his
One bedroom apartment and warms up soup in the microwave
I am the last thing you want to watch on TV
An infomercial or a re-run re-run of a show you don’t like
I am the bit of soda left in the can
That’s mixed with saliva and has no taste
And most times you don’t drink it, so
You just toss away the can with me still inside
I am the wallpaper in a dentist office
That no one buys except to paper dentist offices
I am the crumbs you sweep under the rug
I am that thing on craigslist that would be
Perfect except for that one little thing wrong
I am all those lonely things.
Fifty years later their love has not blemished
it's only grown stronger it will not deplenish.
They still like to kiss at those midnight hours,
he still buys her chocolates and beautiful flowers.
Their love story continues to write out more pages,
as their love persists throughout the ages.
Is there tear gas in this room?
Because I can't stop crying
The gas crawls down my esophagus
And crushes my wounded heart.
“God this hurts”
I keep typing,
Praying to computer screen
That I'll forget the smell of your hair
I type till my fingers bleed
So I can forget what your touch feels like
How our lips fit perfectly together.
“God I hate myself”
The only phrase I think of
When I'm pleading for things to back to normal
Back to the days
Where you didn't want to to crack open my skull
And see all of the ugly things
That drift around my cranium
“Baby please I'm sorry. I’m a mess,
A klutz, who waltzes around with stupidity
Baby I get this feeling in my head
When you are not around
I want to keep writing you these love letters
By sliding them under your doors called your eyelids”
But I can’t
I sit alone in the bus called life
Looking across my seat
I see you, my love
Holding onto the bar
Your pretty Blue headlights
That make me drawn to you
Your pretty Blue headlights
Covered with the rain I caused
I'm a rain man,
you see, when people get close to me
I get scared
And force the skies rain to tears with pain.
The only thing that floats in my mind
Is that I hope the man of you life
Buys you flowers
And shows up to your work unexpectedly.
I hope you can travel to Paris
and keep a long list of all of the countries
you've cuddled in.
I hope you he can handle seeing the stars
From your eyes every time you guys cuddle
Under the moon light.
I hope he can teach you how to slow dance
And I hope that he can teach me
On how to be a better man.
I have been cheated on. He shares me with her. She is a pretty little girl. She has pretty little outfits of purple and pink and green and she always smells clean. He is gentle to her, with his touch and his lips. He smiles when she’s sweet and he laughs when she’s rough. If I hurt him, he lets me go; if she hurts him, he blames himself. She’s very good at breaking the ice when he wants a new friend and in a matter of time he is sharing her with them but he would never share me. He buys her lavish gifts of stained glass and painted ceramics. He spends all his money on her and his pocket is empty for me. I watch my diet while he shares all the sweets in the world with her. (It must be a passionate way to make love.) He tries to hide her from me, but I can smell her perfume in his hair and I can smell her scented gloss on his lips, and I know when his eyes are twinkling from something more than me. When it is the three of us, he always picks her first and he’ll pick her again and again until she’s all worn out. Some people may think she’s no good, she’s a poison, he should break it off, but others congratulate him for scoring such a beauty. That smile she brings to his face and everyone else’s who breathes her in. I have always been second but he is my first. I do not share him with her, though I think I should. If I want to fit in, if I want to be happy, if I want him to love me more. She’ll never break his heart.
buys his daughter
baubles and jewels
plants a garden
sharpens the tools
the former girl
when alone on earth
that shine, but
no common sense
the latter daughter
a friend with earth
and food, is
one mother shows
her daughter a mirror,
to her daughter,
reliance of duty
the first girl
but none who
the second girl
1969 Hartford art school is magnet for exceedingly intelligent over-sensitive under-achievers alluring freaks congenital creeps and anyone who cannot cut it in straight world it is about loners dreamers stoners clowns cliques of posers competing to dress draw act most outrageous weird wonderful classrooms clash in diversity of needs some students get it right off while others require so much individual attention one girl constantly raises her hand calls for everything to be repeated explained creativity is treated as trouble and compliance to instruction rewarded most of faculty are of opinion kids are not capable of making original artwork teachers discourage students from dream of becoming well-known until they are older more experienced only practiced skilled artists are competent to create ‘real art’ defined by how much struggle or multiple meanings weave through the work Odysseus wants to make magic boxes without knowing or being informed of Joseph Cornell one teacher tells him you think you’re going to invent some new color the world has never seen? you’re just some rowdy brat from the midwest with a lot of crazy ideas and no evidence of authenticity another teacher warns you’re nothing more than a bricoleur! Odysseus questions what’s a bricoleur teacher informs a rogue handyman who haphazardly constructs from whatever is immediately available Odysseus questions what’s wrong with that? teacher answers it’s low-class folk junk possessing no real intellectual value independently he reads Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium Is The Message” and “The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci” he memorizes introductory remark of Leonardo’s “i must do like one who comes last to the fair and can find no other way of providing for himself than by taking all the things already seen by others and not taken by reason of their lesser value” Odysseus dreams of becoming accomplished important artist like Robert Rauschenberg Jasper Johns Andy Warhol he dreams of being in eye of hurricane New York art scene he works for university newspaper and is nicknamed crashkiss the newspaper editor is leader in student movement and folk singer who croons “45 caliber man, you’re so much more than our 22, but there’s so many more of us than you” Odysseus grows mustache wears flower printed pants vintage 1940’s leather jacket g.i. surplus clothes he makes many friends his gift for hooking up with girls is uncanny he is long haired drug-crazed hippie enjoying popularity previously unknown to him rock bands play at art openings everyone flirts dances gets stoned lots of activism on campus New York Times dubs university of Hartford “Berkeley of the east coast” holding up two fingers in peace sign is subversive in 1969 symbol of rebellion youth solidarity gesture against war hawks rednecks corporate America acknowledgment of potential beyond materialistic self-righteous values of status quo sign of what could be in universe filled with incredible possibilities he moves in with painting student one year advanced named Todd Whitman Todd has curly blond hair sturdy build wire rimmed glasses impish smile gemini superb draftsman amazing artist Todd emulates Francisco de Goya and Albrecht Durer Todd’s talent overshadows Odysseus’s Todd’s dad is accomplished professor at distinguished college in Massachusetts to celebrate Odysseus’s arrival Todd cooks all day preparing spaghetti dinner when Odysseus arrives home tripping on acid without appetite Todd is disappointed Odysseus runs down to corner store buys large bottle of wine returns to house Todd is eating spaghetti alone they get drunk together then pierce each other’s ears with needles ice wine cork pierced ears are outlaw style of bad ass bikers like Hell’s Angels Todd says you are a real original Odys and funny too Odysseus asks funny, how? Todd answers you are one crazy motherfucker drop acid whenever you want smoke weed then go to class this is fun tonight Odys getting drunk and piercing our ears Odysseus says yup i’m having a good time too Todd and Odysseus become best friends Odysseus turns Todd on to Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” and “Ariel” then they both read Ted Hughes “Crow” illustrated with Leonard Baskin prints Todd turns Odysseus on to German Expressionist painting art movement of garish colors emotionally violent imagery from 1905-1925 later infuriating Third Reich who deemed the work “degenerate” Odysseus dives into works of Max Beckmann Otto Dix Conrad Felixmulller Barthel Gilles George Grosz Erich Heckel Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Felix Nussbaum Karl Schmitt-Rottluff Carl Hofer August Macke Max Peckstein Elfriede Lohse-Wachtler Egon Shiele list goes on in 1969 most parents don’t have money to buy their children cars most kids living off campus either ride bikes or hitchhike to school then back home on weekends often without a penny in their pockets Odysseus and Todd randomly select a highway and hitch rides to Putney Vermont Brattleboro Boston Cape Cod New York City or D.C. in search of adventure there is always trouble to be found curious girls to assist in Georgetown Odysseus sleeps with skinny girl with webbed toes who believes he is Jesus he tries to dissuade her but she is convinced
Toby Mantis is visiting New York City artist at Hartford art school he looks like huskier handsomer version of Ringo Starr and women dig him he builds stretchers and stretches canvases for Warhol lives in huge loft in Soho on Broadway and Bleeker invites Odysseus to come down on weekends hang out Toby takes him to Max’s Kansas City Warhol’s Electric Circus they wander all night into morning there are printing companies longshoremen gays in Chelsea Italians in West Village hippies playing guitars protesting the war in Washington Square all kinds of hollering crazies passing out fliers pins in Union Square Toby is hard drinker Odysseus has trouble keeping up he pukes his guts out number of times Odysseus is pot head not drinker he explores 42nd Street stumbles across strange exotic place named Peep Show World upstairs is large with many porn cubicles creepy dudes hanging around downstairs is astonishing there are many clusters of booths with live nude girls inside girls shout out hey boys come on now pick me come on boys there are hundreds of girls from all over the world in every conceivable size shape race he enters dark stall puts fifty cents in coin box window screen lifts inside each cluster are 6 to 10 girls either parading or glued to a window for $1 he is allowed to caress kiss their breasts for $2 he is permitted to probe their vagina or ass for $10 girl reaches hand into darkened stall jerks him off tall slender British girl thrills him the most she says let me have another go at your dickey Odysseus spends all his money orgasms 5 times departing he notices men from every walk of life passing through wall street stockbrokers executives rednecks mobsters frat boys tourists fat old bald guys smoking thick smelly cigars Toby Mantis has good-looking girlfriend named Lorraine with long brown hair Toby Lorraine and Odysseus sit around kitchen table Odysseus doodles with pencil on paper Toby spreads open Lorraine’s thighs exposing her vagina to Odysseus Lorraine blushes yet permits Toby to finger her Odysseus thinks she has the most beautiful vagina he has ever seen bulging pelvic bone brown distinctive bush symmetric lips Toby and Lorraine watch in amusement as Odysseus gazes intently Tony mischievously remarks you like looking at that pussy don’t you? Odysseus stares silently begins pencil drawing Lorraine’s vagina his eyes darting back and forth following day Lorraine seduces Odysseus while Toby is away walks out nude from shower she is few years older her body lean with high breasts she directs his hands mouth while she talks with someone on telephone it is strange yet quite exciting Odysseus is in awe of New York City every culture in the world intermingling democracy functioning in an uncontrollable managed breath millions of people in motion stories unraveling on every street 24 hour spectacle with no limits every conceivable variety of humanity sucking in same air Odysseus is bedazzled yet intimidated
Odysseus spends summer of 1970 at art colony in Cummington Massachusetts it is magical time extraordinary place many talented eccentric characters all kinds of happenings stage plays poetry readings community meals volleyball after dinner volleyball games are hilarious fun he lives alone in isolated studio amidst wild raspberries in woods shares toilet with field mouse no shower he reads Jerzy Kosinski’s “Painted Bird” then “Being There” then “Steps” attractive long haired girl named Pam visits community for weekend meets Odysseus they talk realize they were in first grade together at Harper amazing coincidence automatic ground for “we need to have sex because neither of us has seen each other since first grade” she inquires where do you sleep? Todd hitches up from Hartford to satisfy curiosity everyone sleeps around good-looking blue-eyed poet named Shannon Banks from South Boston tells Odysseus his erection is not big enough for kind of intercourse she wants but she will suck him off that’s fine with him 32 year old poet named Ellen Morrissey from Massachusetts reassures him erection is fine Ellen is beginning to find her way out from suffocating marriage she has little daughter named Nina Ellen admires Odysseus’s free spirit sees both his possibilities and naïveté she realizes he has crippling family baggage he has no idea he is carrying thing about trauma is as it is occurring victim shrugs laughs to repel shock yet years later pain horror sink in turned-on with new ideas he returns to Hartford art school classes are fun yet confusing he strives to be best drawer most innovative competition sidetracks him Odysseus uses power drill to carve pumpkin on Halloween teachers warn him to stick to fundamentals too much creativity is suspect Todd and he are invited to holiday party Odysseus shows up with Ellen Morrissey driving in her father’s station wagon 2 exceptionally pretty girls flirt with him he is live wire they sneak upstairs he fingers both at same time while they laugh to each other one of the girls Laura invites him outside to do more he follows they walk through falling snow until they find hidden area near some trees Laura lies down lifts her skirt she spreads her legs dense pubic mound he is about to explore her there when Laura looks up sees figure with flashlight following their tracks in snow she warns it’s Bill my husband run for your life! Odysseus runs around long way back inside party grabs a beer pretending he has been there next to Ellen all night few minutes later he sees Laura and Bill return through front door Bill has dark mustache angry eyes Odysseus tells Ellen it is late maybe they should leave soon suddenly Bill walks up to him with beer in hand cracks bottle over his head glass and beer splatter Odysseus jumps up runs out to station wagon Ellen hurriedly follows snow coming down hard car is wedged among many guest vehicles he starts engine locks doors maneuvers vehicle back and forth trying to inch way out of spot Bill appears from party walks to his van disappears from out of darkness swirling snow Bill comes at them wielding large crowbar smashes car’s headlights taillights side mirrors windshield covered in broken glass Ellen ducks on floor beneath glove compartment sobs cries he’s going to kill us! we’re going to die! Odysseus steers station wagon free floors gas pedal drives on back country roads through furious snowstorm in dark of night no lights Odysseus contorts crouches forward in order to see through hole in shattered windshield Ellen sees headlights behind them coming up fast it is Bill in van Bill banging their bumper follows them all the way back to Hartford to Odysseus’s place they run inside call police Bill sits parked van outside across street as police arrive half hour later Bill pulls away next day Odysseus and Ellen drive to Boston to explain to Ellen’s dad what has happened to his station wagon Odysseus stays with Ellen in Brookline for several nights another holiday party she wants to take him along to meet her friends her social circles are older he thinks to challenge their values be outrageous paints face Ellen is horrified cries you can’t possibly do this to me these are my close friends what will they think? he defiantly answers my face is a mask who cares what i look like? man woman creature what does it matter? if your friends really want to know me they’ll need to look beyond the make-up tonight i am your sluttish girlfriend! sometimes Odysseus can be a thoughtless fool
Laura Rousseau Shane files for divorce from Bill she is exceptionally lovely models at art school she is of French descent her figure possessing exotic traits she stands like ballerina with thick pointed nipples copious pubic hair Odysseus is infatuated she frequently dances pursues him Laura says i had the opportunity to meet Bob Dylan once amazed Odysseus questions what did you do? she replies what could i possibly have in common with Bob Dylan? Laura teases Odysseus about being a preppy then lustfully gropes him grabs holds his balls they devote many hours to sexual intimacy during intercourse she routinely reaches her hand from under her buns grasps his testicles squeezing as he pumps he likes that Laura is quite eccentric fetishes over Odysseus she even thrills to pick zits on his back he is not sure if it is truly a desire of hers proof of earthiness or simply expression of mothering Laura has two daughters by Bill Odysseus is in over his head Laura tells Odysseus myth of Medea smitten with love for Jason Jason needs Medea’s help to find Golden Fleece Medea agrees with promise of marriage murders her brother arranges murder of king who has deprived Jason his inheritance couple is forced into exile Medea bears Jason 2 sons then Jason falls in love with King Creon’s daughter deserts Medea is furious she makes shawl for King Creon’s daughter to wear at her wedding to Jason shawl turns to flames killing bride Medea murders her own sons by Jason Odysseus goes along with story for a while but Laura wants husband Odysseus is merely scruffy boy with roving eyes Laura becomes galled by Odysseus leaves him for one of his roommates whom she marries then several years later divorces there is scene when Laura tells Odysseus she is dropping him for his roommate he is standing in living room of her house space is painted deep renaissance burgundy there are framed photographs on walls in one photo he is hugging Laura and her daughters under big oak tree in room Laura’s friend Bettina other girl he fingered first night he met Laura at party is watching with arms crossed he drops to floor curls body sobs i miss you so much Laura turns to Bettina remarks look at him men are such big babies he’s pitiful Bettina nods
following summer he works installing displays at G. Fox Department Store besides one woman gay men staff display department for as long as he can remember homosexuals have always been attracted to him this misconception is probably how he got job his tenor voice suggesting not entirely mature man instead more like tentative young boy this ambiguous manifestation sometimes also evidences gestures thoroughly misleading after sidestepping several sexual advances one of his co-workers bewilderingly remarks you really are straight manager staff are fussy chirpy catty group consequently certain he is not gay they discriminate against him stick him with break down clean up slop jobs at outdoor weekend rock concert in Constitution Plaza he meets 2 younger blond girls who consent to go back to his place mess around both girls are quite dazzling yet one is somewhat physically undeveloped they undress and model for Odysseus radio plays Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” both girls move to rhythm sing along he thinks to orchestrate direct decides instead to let them lead lies on bed while curvaceous girl rides his erection slender girl sits on his face they switch all 3 alternate giggle laughter each girl reaches orgasm on his stiffness later both assist with hands mouths his climax is so intense it leaves him paralyzed for a moment
in fall he is cast as Claudius in production of Hamlet Odysseus rehearses diligently on nights of performance he stirs audience to tears when he prays for forgiveness Odysseus somehow conveys how unworthy Claudius feels for killing his own brother in order to be king he realizes he is too insecure in his appearance to be an actor considers himself somewhat appealing but not handsome like Hollywood actors having enjoyed stage experience he organizes street theater group with fellow art students they stage several public performances heads turn local public TV station offers him spot he hurriedly writes treatment inspired by Futurist Dadaist influences show airs is a weird flop Odysseus realizes he is not ready yet for commercial success he constantly clashes with parents Mom and Dad are aware yet standoffish of his inner confusion they feel it is his selfish stubborn own fault they financially support him yet use leverage to push him in directions they choose Mom and Dad want Odysseus to give up his true self for their expectations Dad insists on sales Mom leans towards advertising they believe he will finally come around pick practical career and marry nice Jewish girl his greatest struggle is defining himself against parent’s wills he is compromised conflicted his parents are only ones who stand behind him they bail him out of a 1000 jams his parents are the ones who love support look out for him Mom and Dad pay for school rent health insurance all other incidental amenities he owes them it dawns on him conceivably his entire life destiny may not be about getting married raising a family achieving fame or accumulating wealth power rather his life is about freeing himself from his parent’s oppression healing from troubled traumatized childhood everyday he wakes up with disturbing memories mistrusts Mom’s berating Dad’s violent outbursts his parent’s ceaseless rulings corrections he does not want to carry hurt but it follows him everywhere everyday he tries to put his past behind him wonders why do i hate myself? when will i stop punishing myself? realizes his life will be a difficult one
art school 2 goes here
he sees her carrying tray in cafeteria from first moment he lays eyes on her he knows she is the one it is overwhelming feeling she moves lithe skinny long light brown hair dreamy sleepy eyes suede clogs Levi’s jeans light blue clingy top hinting slight breasts it is fall semester of senior year Hartford art school approaches table where she sits with girlfriend she is spooning bowl of vanilla ice cream he can smell vanilla she looks up at him he blurts hi i’m Odys what’s your name? uhhhh hi hello Odys i’m Bayli tone in her voice ebbs flows as if foreknowing would you like to sit ? she catches him off balance his heart races beats questions you’re not confusing me with someone else? she responds positively not we’ve never met before blue eyes sparkle smile glows he wants things to work this time goes slow gentle he pitches there’s a full moon out did you see it? she answers i’ve been stuck in English Lit. since 1 is it dark enough yet to see the moon? he replies kind of dark enough where are you from? Bayli talks about her father mother 2 younger brothers growing up as Navy brat she seems genuine caring he knows from start she is special whatever happened in Bayli’s or Odysseus’s past does not matter anymore because they have finally found each other Odysseus with Bayli at art school is happiest time of his life she is most important girlfriend he will ever know
tonight i feel like an orphan
Mom and Dad seem so far away
tonight i feel like an orphan
you make me feel this way
"you really are beautiful,
in your own kind of way",
as he spits through his teeth
in what way is that,
in a way that can't be crammed into a size five dress?
in a way that isn't actually aesthetically appealing?
in a way that's too intelligent to find your misogynistic outburst colored flattery?
he pushes the wire-like hair away from my face
and wipes an angry tear from my freckled cheek
"see, all you have to do is try."
that's what i'll do
so i can catch another in a long line of "men" who think i COULD be beautiful
as if beauty is only one color
as if it can truly be measured with a bathroom scale and a hand-held mirror
and can be purchased at a costly brand-name outlet in a shopping mall near you
my mother's mother has an affinity for referring to my twenty-three extra pounds
in a way that one refers to the neighbor's busted-down ford that needs towed away
"oh, catrina, you really could be so gorgeous,
if you'd just get rid of some of your fluff."
she pinches at my sides
and the backs of my arms
and the little curve at the tops of my thighs
just below my ass
like i'm an over-stuffed pillow on her antique love-seat
that's about to burst at the seems
should the seemstress not pull out the threads with her teeth
and remove the unsightly over-fill like black-heads from a slender nose
everything she buys me comes from a plus sized store
and wears a fat filthy double XL on it's tag
considering that i factually only need a large
i fight back my plump tears and wear a cheap smile
as i give thanks i don't mean
and kiss her on her heavily perfumed cheek
"oh, such lovely lips
why not a splash of lipstick?"
as soon as i'm out of her home state
i take the clothes back to the "big-girl" store
and trade them in for pizza and beer money
the girl behind the counter ironically weighs ninety-two pounds soaking wet
and that's only if she's still got on her padded bra
and supposedly sexy
since when were curves a curse?
and who the fuck decided it was a good idea to pattent worth with a lipstick shade, anyway?
i am beautiful without having to paint myself that way
my existence is not defined by the shape i take
my flaws and imperfections can't be remidied with any myriad of poking and plucking
nipping and tucking
and all of my greatness and wonder sure as shit outweigh a tiny bleach-blonde bimbo
and that pretty little pony you rode in on
i refuse to be pressed against a rubric and graded like a show-dog whose owner will only settle for best-in-show
and kicks his failure of a companion sharply in the ribs when he doesn't bring home another ribbon
this obsession of society's is making us sick
we don't teach our children compassion and empathy
we instead instill their heads with talk of thread count
and color schemes
how to brush on blush
and how to pick a suit
cute won't save the world
i beg you sisters
let us not give this disease to our daughters
let us not allow our sons to carry the gene
let's put to rest the ill-concieved notion of our beauty residing without us
rather than within
let us never again bow down to the revlon gods of vanity
we are Woman
and we deserve to finally soar
School was always humuorous to a degree in my opinion because of the underlying idea
that the more damaged you were, the cooler you were in the eyes of the rest of the school.
I have heard numerous conversations that began with something along the lines of, "Oh, you
think YOU got it bad, well my dad blah blah and my best friend blah blah and my life is hell."
I decided to get a little personal and share with you guys something I have never actually
told anyone in entirety yet. I am pretty sure the whole story is still only here in my brain.
I will, out of respect for these people, change their names.
It's October 31, 2012. It's about noon, and all of us sixteen to twenty-two year olds are just waking up.
Brianne woke up probably a few hours ago already to tend to her son, Aaron. He is adorable, one
and a half, blond hair, blue eyes. I have been living here for nearly two months. I am supporting her,
Aaron, and myself with food stamps. I get two hundred dollars a month to basically smoke weed and drink
on the government's budget. Trust me, I'm not proud of it either, and if I could I would pay it back.
Since Brianne is a single mother and an adopted child, she has a single-digit monthly rent (I was fucking
baffled to hear this) and receives support from her foster parents. Basically, if I want to stay here forever
with absolutely no consequences save to miss out on a life of my own, I can.
Brandon is putting on clown make-up so he can troll the streets as a juggalo. I find this amusing as I always
liked to mess around with ICP fans, but he's a really cool kid so I let it go and I even help him perfect it.
I notice he has a bottle of Stolichnaya in his backpack and it's practically full. That, to me, is temptation.
I ask if he would mind me taking a few drinks here and there from the bottle and he says it's fine, so I proceed
to get a nice one p.m. buzz. It was always my favorite drunk, very light, and airy, almost like you're still asleep.
Something bogs you down, but it doesn't bother you, somehow it makes you lighter.
For the rest of the day, we hook up with a few friends, go out and trick or treat in the pouring rain, get soaked
and wait for two hours under an overpass while Brianne goes and gets her car. From there, we proceed home.
At this point, everyone is over at Breanne's and we're all making dinner and drinking beer and having a good time
(Aaron is with the grandparents tonight). I guess I started getting angry about the recent events (for about a month,
everyone in our group with the exception of Brandon have been slowly losing items...but they're obviously being stolen.
At a point, a few of us did some research and determined the only person who could possibly have stolen
a good deal of these things has to be Brandon) and I decided I was tired of sitting on the news waiting for no one to make
a move after a solid two weeks of being certain that we had our guy. So I called him out... and proceeded
to begin burning bridges slowly and very surely for the next few days. I am pretty sure a fight would have broken out
if Bri hadn't taken me into her room to relax. When I finally do, it turns out I woke up the upstairs neighbor,
her baby, and everyone in the house has left save for my friend Jeff and his girlfriend Marissa. This concludes night one.
I later learned that Brandon was not actually the person who was stealing from us (unless of course
he just happened to not get caught when we found out who had done most of it) and I feel bad for bringing the whole
thing up because I would have liked to stay in touch with him. We got along swimmingly and he actually did have
a lot of interesting things to talk about. Smart, nice, hilarious... Well, maybe he'll turn up one day.
The next morning, I woke up to find the house empty save for Jeff and Marissa in the next room, but where I am,
it simply appears empty. I don't know what happened but I intuit that I have been sleeping all night without
my girlfriend. This upsets me and I begin to weep like a confused child, which is exactly what you do when you're
helpless and too drunk in the brain to figure out how to pull yourself out of a helpless situation (trust me,
I own the handbook). Marissa walks in and begins to explain to me that I had scared her too much and she slept
on the couch and that she had left to go pick up her son. So I realize I need to calm down, but I can feel
Jeff is not happy with me in the slightest, considering he will not come and talk to me (this is extremely painful
because he is probably one of the best friends I have ever had, with a mind that vastly exceeds that of everyone
I have met save one other, and he's a different story). They leave and I decide to stay in the house all day.
This is a very bad idea. I stay home, watch re-runs of a show I have seen billions of times, and considering
that Brandon and I are no longer on good terms, like a complete asshole, I drink the rest of his vodka.
In walks Bri, it's around 7. She's not happy. She proceeds to tell me that the night before I asked out a friend of mine
and she said yes. And I was a bit shocked because I couldn't remember it at first. Then it all hit me.
A few days before, Aaron called me "dad." Now remember, this is not my child. I am dark, dark, dark, and she had this kid
about two years after we had any past relationship. I am extremely worried in my mind and I realize I am headed toward nothing.
That I am stagnant and can not even afford to go back to school. This scares me, so I drunkenly asked out Tanya.
Tanya...we had been friends for about five years, and I had tried to get with her so many damn times... she was like
one of those girls you see and you're instantly reminded of an anime character. Tall, thin, beautiful hips, perfect
proportions, lovely hair, eyes, voice, and a personality I can liken to a Disney princess/black metal lumberjack.
The kind of girl who has a tough exterior, but inside, she just wants someone to tell her everything is going to be ok.
After about two hours of pleading with Bri to let me stay, I finally send Tanya a message, and we hang out for the next
two days, whence I whisper in her ear that everything is going to be okay and we proceed to have quite passionate sex
for those nights, where I discovered the secret to making a woman climax with my tongue (tip: if the underside of your
tongue isn't completely torn apart, you're doing something wrong). But alas, I could not stay.
This is the part I dreaded, because I know I have to go back to Jeff's house and ask him if I can stay there for a while.
And I got the answer I expected.
The words he used...
"I'm pissed off...extremely pissed off at you, and disappointed." It was like a father saying it to you. And him and I
have a very interesting friendship built on such an extreme understanding that I knew exactly how badly I had been spiraling.
I began to leave and he gave me a slice of pizza, with that slight smile that told me "just go find yourself, we'll be fine."
I hobbled off into the night drunk, with one piece of pizza and all my food at Bri's, which could have lasted me another few days,
easing the transition into homeless. And it could have prevented a horrible occurance that took place the following afternoon. I
was crying, because I knew I was dying, but I didn't want to ask either of my parents for help, because this was the first time
I was out on my own and I was far too proud to give up and let the world make me its victim. So I walked...
Sixteen fucking miles...
To the next town. Took me all night because I was dodging traffic, easing into trees, avoiding on and off ramps, trying to stay
away from any police that may exist on the road. When I finally arrived in the next town (where I knew I may have one contact)
I decided to sleep until the morning came so I could have the energy to find my next venture.
It was five thirty am. I had 3 hours until sun-up, I had just walked enough to be burning, and there was plenty of whiskey in my veins.
I had left my sleeping bag with Tanya hours earlier, wishing in the park that I had not been so naiive as to think I would be allowed
back in the house. So I pulled out a pile of dirty clothes and put them over me like blankets, in some random corner of the local
park, under some bushes, hidden from cold and sight, with great hope...
Fifteen minutes pass. My eyes shoot open. I am freezing. The sweat has dried and frozen to my body. This is hell.
I grab my things and with the worst effort I can ever remember myself mustering, I drag myself to the toilet.
When I open it, the first thing I check for is cleanliness. It's spotless. I am so relieved. I sit in the corner of the room,
which my knees to my chest, head in my hands, wrapped in a leather jacket I had gotten from Jeff (ha, he really is my
guardian angel, though he would laugh to hear it).
I catch winks, occasionally looking up to check if the sun is rising. When it finally is, I get up, change my clothes (I had
ONE clean set of clothing and it had been rotting with the rest in the backpack) and immediately head to a thrift store where
a family friend is working.
On my way there, I notice in a little parking lot near the store a sight I had never actually come across but I always thought
would be the most amazing luck, and it was timed in such a spot in my life that it was the ultimate miracle...and a curse in
In front of my eyes (this miracle appeared in my path as I was walking looking down, so it startled me) was the worst possible thing
for me: A half finished fifth of Smirnoff, and a half smoked pack of Marlboro 100 Reds. I open the pack and sure enough, the celophane
protected every cigarette inside from any water damage. I am ecstatic. This is not only amazing, but highly unlikely.
So I down the bottle in one go and take the rest of the smokes with me.
When I arrive at the thrift shop, it turns out I am there on a day when my potential savior is not working, so I get her number from the clerk
and head over to a payphone and realize... I have no money. So I decide to go on a quest for dropped pocket change.
Before I even leave the parking lot, I see a young man, no older than 23, sitting on a nice red classic-style Corvette and he's
reading William S. Burroughs. So naturally, I decide to strike up a conversation with the young man. Turns out he's the nicest guy
and his name is Jordan. So him and I got together and decided to go out for a game of disc golf (some may not know what this is;
Imagine frisbee but with a golf theme, so you need to get from a tee pad into a basket. Really fun, centering, and extremely popular
with potheads, Californians, beer-drinkers, and hippies) and before we go, he asks if I would like to snag a few beers first.
I tell him a piece of my story and he can tell I am down on my luck and broke so he decides to help me out. He buys us both some beer
and we proceed to disk.
Turns out he's an ex-junkie and has been through quite a bit of hell himself, so we find that we're in a good position to help each
other make some better decisions in life. After the game, we go over to a payphone and he gives me money to call my friend.
Buzz (this the only name I am not changing because her name is fucking badass) answers the phone and unfortunately informs me that
though she would take me in any day of the year, she just moved in to a house with one older lady she takes care of, and its a single
bedroom apartment, so there is just no way it can work.
So I go back to his car and tell him the news, and he says he thinks he may be able to put me up for a few days until I can sort
everything out. We go back out to the store and grab ourselves a fifth of vodka.
We end up in the park playing music, talking, performing standup for one another, and I begin to realize I am drinking too fast,
so I try to ease back a little. He was playing a version of a Radiohead song I had never heard before
"Everyone this way. Okay, get your hands against the wall. Spread your legs. Don't move."
The doors clanking, some asshole won't shut up in the next cell over.
More slamming of doors, someone rubbing my body all over trying to find my knives, no doubt.
And my AK 47 I conceal, and my weed, and my ... oh shit, I really did have weed on me.
"Move forward. Turn around. Alright, go to bed."
"Get up. Come on, slowly... There you go. There's a few more coming in so we got to get you to another cell."
"Pick a bed."
Something is wrong. This bed is not covered. There is no comfort. It's just a mat. And I have no pillow. This is not a house
of any sort, my bag isnt what I am sleeping on. Something is very wrong here.
I am in jail. Oh of course.
I know the answer before I hear it, but I ask anyway: "What are my charges, ma'am?"
"Drunk in public."
I'm about thirty miles or so North of inner Seattle. Not a bad place to be. I'm working for a Safeway. It's somewhere around
the first of June. I receive word that Bri has been on heroin. And I may have left at a crucial time in her life thinking
only of myself, but I needed to go somewhere I could be productive. Yet my decision left her in a position where she turned
to hard drugs...
I can't help but feel I am to blame. I am listening to the dull, stupid words of my ex boss, Rod, who is telling me
that even though I may feel like I need to help her, there is nothing I can do for her, so I should bury myself in my work
instead. He tells me this in about six hundred different ways before I leave the room after twenty minutes. Well great.
I may have no focus here at work today, but at least I killed almost a half hour of the day just listening to someone
I am at a loss of what to do here, but I eventually get a hold of her, and after a long time not talking, we come to
somewhat of a closure, and she is beginning to sober up herself. I realize we were both in incredibly hard times, and I still
wish with all my heart there could have been some way I could have helped her raise that boy and stayed and been her
love, and at the same time, still go to college, and progress and get a good job...but I was in a small Northern California
town. There was nothing left, all the old shops were out of business. It was time for me to move on then, and we have
all seen better days for it. She looks incredible these days by the way. She lost an insane amount of weight, and I know
a lot of it had to do with the drugs, but if she truly is sober like she says she is, she'll be getting much better.
A few weeks ago 3 people I used to know and hang out with died in the span of a week. It was a terrible tragedy, and I have been
thinking back on all the names of people I used to love very, very much before they got lost in some way.
There's Lorne Holly, who killed himself after a few weeks of detoxing from crank.
Layla Harmon, who died in a car crash, blunt head trauma, with a drunk driver (I have a tattoo for this, I will never drive drunk).
Heavy Eagle, who killed himself after years of drug problems.
Chaz Lipman, who died in a car crash as well.
Ren Rain, who I am still not sure about...
And of course, Tray Beraldi, who was my closest friend's cousin... I wish I were there to mourne with him...
Last night I got a text from my best friend, who said he couldn't sleep and he barely eats anything anymore, and he feels like his throat
is going to explode, and he cant swallow and his neck is killing him constantly. He has been this way for a year, and he is talking constantly
about getting a gun and blowing his head off. And no one believes him because he constantly talks about it because he is in so much pain.
No doctor can diagnose him so far, he has no idea what's wrong with him, he's been tested all over the place, he has no hope, he's barely
cligning and he doesn't know how much longer he can hold on.
All I really want to say is
Lord? What I have done? I don't pray, I never pray, I don't even know who I would pray to. But WHAT ELSE DO I HAVE TO DO?!
I bring myself across hell and I pull myself from the worst depression I have ever experienced, and all I ask of you is to just
STOP. KILLING. MY. FRIENDS. PLEASE?
Or maybe the other effective way is to just state...
"I just wish my friends would stop fucking dying."
I believe the real point here is that we all feel pain. But don't try and compare our pain...
It's ridiculous. To say the only experiences in life are depressing ones because bliss is ignorance is a simple statement. Pain shouldn't have to be felt. Pain like these all can stem from something much bigger than us, it's much more integrated into society than we think. It's control. We need to realize, we're being divided, we're being hushed, the idea is to keep us in this pain, to make us all miserable, to make us want to die. Docile.
The point is, make a good future for yourself. Because that story up there is not worth bragging about.
If all you've ever wanted was material things
and the perfect lover
with the adorable personality
who takes you on coffee shop dates
and buys your happiness
you are the problem with society
If all you've ever wanted was money,
money to buy that car,
or to travel to that place,
or to eat at that restaurant,
then you, my friend, are not part of the truth
Reality is that life is never what it seems
and these materials will some day turn to dust
along with you and I
Don't let materialism be your vice
Who would not laugh, if Lawrence, hired to grace
His costly canvas with each flattered face,
Abused his art, till Nature, with a blush,
Saw cits grow Centaurs underneath his brush?
Or, should some limner join, for show or sale,
A Maid of Honour to a Mermaid’s tail?
Or low Dubost—as once the world has seen—
Degrade God’s creatures in his graphic spleen?
Not all that forced politeness, which defends
Fools in their faults, could gag his grinning friends.
Believe me, Moschus, like that picture seems
The book which, sillier than a sick man’s dreams,
Displays a crowd of figures incomplete,
Poetic Nightmares, without head or feet.
Poets and painters, as all artists know,
May shoot a little with a lengthened bow;
We claim this mutual mercy for our task,
And grant in turn the pardon which we ask;
But make not monsters spring from gentle dams—
Birds breed not vipers, tigers nurse not lambs.
A laboured, long Exordium, sometimes tends
(Like patriot speeches) but to paltry ends;
And nonsense in a lofty note goes down,
As Pertness passes with a legal gown:
Thus many a Bard describes in pompous strain
The clear brook babbling through the goodly plain:
The groves of Granta, and her Gothic halls,
King’s Coll-Cam’s stream-stained windows, and old walls:
Or, in adventurous numbers, neatly aims
To paint a rainbow, or the river Thames.
You sketch a tree, and so perhaps may shine—
But daub a shipwreck like an alehouse sign;
You plan a vase—it dwindles to a pot;
Then glide down Grub-street—fasting and forgot:
Laughed into Lethe by some quaint Review,
Whose wit is never troublesome till—true.
In fine, to whatsoever you aspire,
Let it at least be simple and entire.
The greater portion of the rhyming tribe
(Give ear, my friend, for thou hast been a scribe)
Are led astray by some peculiar lure.
I labour to be brief—become obscure;
One falls while following Elegance too fast;
Another soars, inflated with Bombast;
Too low a third crawls on, afraid to fly,
He spins his subject to Satiety;
Absurdly varying, he at last engraves
Fish in the woods, and boars beneath the waves!
Unless your care’s exact, your judgment nice,
The flight from Folly leads but into Vice;
None are complete, all wanting in some part,
Like certain tailors, limited in art.
For galligaskins Slowshears is your man
But coats must claim another artisan.
Now this to me, I own, seems much the same
As Vulcan’s feet to bear Apollo’s frame;
Or, with a fair complexion, to expose
Black eyes, black ringlets, but—a bottle nose!
Dear Authors! suit your topics to your strength,
And ponder well your subject, and its length;
Nor lift your load, before you’re quite aware
What weight your shoulders will, or will not, bear.
But lucid Order, and Wit’s siren voice,
Await the Poet, skilful in his choice;
With native Eloquence he soars along,
Grace in his thoughts, and Music in his song.
Let Judgment teach him wisely to combine
With future parts the now omitted line:
This shall the Author choose, or that reject,
Precise in style, and cautious to select;
Nor slight applause will candid pens afford
To him who furnishes a wanting word.
Then fear not, if ’tis needful, to produce
Some term unknown, or obsolete in use,
(As Pitt has furnished us a word or two,
Which Lexicographers declined to do;)
So you indeed, with care,—(but be content
To take this license rarely)—may invent.
New words find credit in these latter days,
If neatly grafted on a Gallic phrase;
What Chaucer, Spenser did, we scarce refuse
To Dryden’s or to Pope’s maturer Muse.
If you can add a little, say why not,
As well as William Pitt, and Walter Scott?
Since they, by force of rhyme and force of lungs,
Enriched our Island’s ill-united tongues;
’Tis then—and shall be—lawful to present
Reform in writing, as in Parliament.
As forests shed their foliage by degrees,
So fade expressions which in season please;
And we and ours, alas! are due to Fate,
And works and words but dwindle to a date.
Though as a Monarch nods, and Commerce calls,
Impetuous rivers stagnate in canals;
Though swamps subdued, and marshes drained, sustain
The heavy ploughshare and the yellow grain,
And rising ports along the busy shore
Protect the vessel from old Ocean’s roar,
All, all, must perish; but, surviving last,
The love of Letters half preserves the past.
True, some decay, yet not a few revive;
Though those shall sink, which now appear to thrive,
As Custom arbitrates, whose shifting sway
Our life and language must alike obey.
The immortal wars which Gods and Angels wage,
Are they not shown in Milton’s sacred page?
His strain will teach what numbers best belong
To themes celestial told in Epic song.
The slow, sad stanza will correctly paint
The Lover’s anguish, or the Friend’s complaint.
But which deserves the Laurel—Rhyme or Blank?
Which holds on Helicon the higher rank?
Let squabbling critics by themselves dispute
This point, as puzzling as a Chancery suit.
Satiric rhyme first sprang from selfish spleen.
You doubt—see Dryden, Pope, St. Patrick’s Dean.
Blank verse is now, with one consent, allied
To Tragedy, and rarely quits her side.
Though mad Almanzor rhymed in Dryden’s days,
No sing-song Hero rants in modern plays;
Whilst modest Comedy her verse foregoes
For jest and ‘pun’ in very middling prose.
Not that our Bens or Beaumonts show the worse,
Or lose one point, because they wrote in verse.
But so Thalia pleases to appear,
Poor Virgin! damned some twenty times a year!
Whate’er the scene, let this advice have weight:—
Adapt your language to your Hero’s state.
At times Melpomene forgets to groan,
And brisk Thalia takes a serious tone;
Nor unregarded will the act pass by
Where angry Townly “lifts his voice on high.”
Again, our Shakespeare limits verse to Kings,
When common prose will serve for common things;
And lively Hal resigns heroic ire,—
To “hollaing Hotspur” and his sceptred sire.
’Tis not enough, ye Bards, with all your art,
To polish poems; they must touch the heart:
Where’er the scene be laid, whate’er the song,
Still let it bear the hearer’s soul along;
Command your audience or to smile or weep,
Whiche’er may please you—anything but sleep.
The Poet claims our tears; but, by his leave,
Before I shed them, let me see ‘him’ grieve.
If banished Romeo feigned nor sigh nor tear,
Lulled by his languor, I could sleep or sneer.
Sad words, no doubt, become a serious face,
And men look angry in the proper place.
At double meanings folks seem wondrous sly,
And Sentiment prescribes a pensive eye;
For Nature formed at first the inward man,
And actors copy Nature—when they can.
She bids the beating heart with rapture bound,
Raised to the Stars, or levelled with the ground;
And for Expression’s aid, ’tis said, or sung,
She gave our mind’s interpreter—the tongue,
Who, worn with use, of late would fain dispense
(At least in theatres) with common sense;
O’erwhelm with sound the Boxes, Gallery, Pit,
And raise a laugh with anything—but Wit.
To skilful writers it will much import,
Whence spring their scenes, from common life or Court;
Whether they seek applause by smile or tear,
To draw a Lying Valet, or a Lear,
A sage, or rakish youngster wild from school,
A wandering Peregrine, or plain John Bull;
All persons please when Nature’s voice prevails,
Scottish or Irish, born in Wilts or Wales.
Or follow common fame, or forge a plot;
Who cares if mimic heroes lived or not!
One precept serves to regulate the scene:
Make it appear as if it might have been.
If some Drawcansir you aspire to draw,
Present him raving, and above all law:
If female furies in your scheme are planned,
Macbeth’s fierce dame is ready to your hand;
For tears and treachery, for good and evil,
Constance, King Richard, Hamlet, and the Devil!
But if a new design you dare essay,
And freely wander from the beaten way,
True to your characters, till all be past,
Preserve consistency from first to last.
Tis hard to venture where our betters fail,
Or lend fresh interest to a twice-told tale;
And yet, perchance,’tis wiser to prefer
A hackneyed plot, than choose a new, and err;
Yet copy not too closely, but record,
More justly, thought for thought than word for word;
Nor trace your Prototype through narrow ways,
But only follow where he merits praise.
For you, young Bard! whom luckless fate may lead
To tremble on the nod of all who read,
Ere your first score of cantos Time unrolls,
Beware—for God’s sake, don’t begin like Bowles!
“Awake a louder and a loftier strain,”—
And pray, what follows from his boiling brain?—
He sinks to Southey’s level in a trice,
Whose Epic Mountains never fail in mice!
Not so of yore awoke your mighty Sire
The tempered warblings of his master-lyre;
Soft as the gentler breathing of the lute,
“Of Man’s first disobedience and the fruit”
He speaks, but, as his subject swells along,
Earth, Heaven, and Hades echo with the song.”
Still to the “midst of things” he hastens on,
As if we witnessed all already done;
Leaves on his path whatever seems too mean
To raise the subject, or adorn the scene;
Gives, as each page improves upon the sight,
Not smoke from brightness, but from darkness—light;
And truth and fiction with such art compounds,
We know not where to fix their several bounds.
If you would please the Public, deign to hear
What soothes the many-headed monster’s ear:
If your heart triumph when the hands of all
Applaud in thunder at the curtain’s fall,
Deserve those plaudits—study Nature’s page,
And sketch the striking traits of every age;
While varying Man and varying years unfold
Life’s little tale, so oft, so vainly told;
Observe his simple childhood’s dawning days,
His pranks, his prate, his playmates, and his plays:
Till time at length the mannish tyro weans,
And prurient vice outstrips his tardy teens!
Behold him Freshman! forced no more to groan
O’er Virgil’s devilish verses and his own;
Prayers are too tedious, Lectures too abstruse,
He flies from Tavell’s frown to “Fordham’s Mews;”
(Unlucky Tavell! doomed to daily cares
By pugilistic pupils, and by bears,)
Fines, Tutors, tasks, Conventions threat in vain,
Before hounds, hunters, and Newmarket Plain.
Rough with his elders, with his equals rash,
Civil to sharpers, prodigal of cash;
Constant to nought—save hazard and a whore,
Yet cursing both—for both have made him sore:
Unread (unless since books beguile disease,
The P——x becomes his passage to Degrees);
Fooled, pillaged, dunned, he wastes his terms away,
And unexpelled, perhaps, retires M.A.;
Master of Arts! as hells and clubs proclaim,
Where scarce a blackleg bears a brighter name!
Launched into life, extinct his early fire,
He apes the selfish prudence of his Sire;
Marries for money, chooses friends for rank,
Buys land, and shrewdly trusts not to the Bank;
Sits in the Senate; gets a son and heir;
Sends him to Harrow—for himself was there.
Mute, though he votes, unless when called to cheer,
His son’s so sharp—he’ll see the dog a Peer!
Manhood declines—Age palsies every limb;
He quits the scene—or else the scene quits him;
Scrapes wealth, o’er each departing penny grieves,
And Avarice seizes all Ambition leaves;
Counts cent per cent, and smiles, or vainly frets,
O’er hoards diminished by young Hopeful’s debts;
Weighs well and wisely what to sell or buy,
Complete in all life’s lessons—but to die;
Peevish and spiteful, doting, hard to please,
Commending every time, save times like these;
Crazed, querulous, forsaken, half forgot,
Expires unwept—is buried—Let him rot!
But from the Drama let me not digress,
Nor spare my precepts, though they please you less.
Though Woman weep, and hardest hearts are stirred,
When what is done is rather seen than heard,
Yet many deeds preserved in History’s page
Are better told than acted on the stage;
The ear sustains what shocks the timid eye,
And Horror thus subsides to Sympathy,
True Briton all beside, I here am French—
Bloodshed ’tis surely better to retrench:
The gladiatorial gore we teach to flow
In tragic scenes disgusts though but in show;
We hate the carnage while we see the trick,
And find small sympathy in being sick.
Not on the stage the regicide Macbeth
Appals an audience with a Monarch’s death;
To gaze when sable Hubert threats to sear
Young Arthur’s eyes, can ours or Nature bear?
A haltered heroine Johnson sought to slay—
We saved Irene, but half damned the play,
And (Heaven be praised!) our tolerating times
Stint Metamorphoses to Pantomimes;
And Lewis’ self, with all his sprites, would quake
To change Earl Osmond’s negro to a snake!
Because, in scenes exciting joy or grief,
We loathe the action which exceeds belief:
And yet, God knows! what may not authors do,
Whose Postscripts prate of dyeing “heroines blue”?
Above all things, Dan Poet, if you can,
Eke out your acts, I pray, with mortal man,
Nor call a ghost, unless some cursed scrape
Must open ten trap-doors for your escape.
Of all the monstrous things I’d fain forbid,
I loathe an Opera worse than Dennis did;
Where good and evil persons, right or wrong,
Rage, love, and aught but moralise—in song.
Hail, last memorial of our foreign friends,
Which Gaul allows, and still Hesperia lends!
Napoleon’s edicts no embargo lay
On whores—spies—singers—wisely shipped away.
Our giant Capital, whose squares are spread
Where rustics earned, and now may beg, their bread,
In all iniquity is grown so nice,
It scorns amusements which are not of price.
Hence the pert shopkeeper, whose throbbing ear
Aches with orchestras which he pays to hear,
Whom shame, not sympathy, forbids to snore,
His anguish doubling by his own “encore;”
Squeezed in “Fop’s Alley,” jostled by the beaux,
Teased with his hat, and trembling for his toes;
Scarce wrestles through the night, nor tastes of ease,
Till the dropped curtain gives a glad release:
Why this, and more, he suffers—can ye guess?—
Because it costs him dear, and makes him dress!
So prosper eunuchs from Etruscan schools;
Give us but fiddlers, and they’re sure of fools!
Ere scenes were played by many a reverend clerk,
(What harm, if David danced before the ark?)
In Christmas revels, simple country folks
Were pleased with morrice-mumm’ry and coarse jokes.
Improving years, with things no longer known,
Produced blithe Punch and merry Madame Joan,
Who still frisk on with feats so lewdly low,
’Tis strange Benvolio suffers such a show;
Suppressing peer! to whom each vice gives place,
Oaths, boxing, begging—all, save rout and race.
Farce followed Comedy, and reached her prime,
In ever-laughing Foote’s fantastic time:
Mad wag! who pardoned none, nor spared the best,
And turned some very serious things to jest.
Nor Church nor State escaped his public sneers,
Arms nor the Gown—Priests—Lawyers—Volunteers:
“Alas, poor Yorick!” now for ever mute!
Whoever loves a laugh must sigh for Foote.
We smile, perforce, when histrionic scenes
Ape the swoln dialogue of Kings and Queens,
When “Crononhotonthologos must die,”
And Arthur struts in mimic majesty.
Moschus! with whom once more I hope to sit,
And smile at folly, if we can’t at wit;
Yes, Friend! for thee I’ll quit my cynic cell,
And bear Swift’s motto, “Vive la bagatelle!”
Which charmed our days in each ægean clime,
As oft at home, with revelry and rhyme.
Then may Euphrosyne, who sped the past,
Soothe thy Life’s scenes, nor leave thee in the last;
But find in thine—like pagan Plato’s bed,
Some merry Manuscript of Mimes, when dead.
Now to the Drama let us bend our eyes,
Where fettered by whig Walpole low she lies;
Corruption foiled her, for she feared her glance;
Decorum left her for an Opera dance!
Yet Chesterfield, whose polished pen inveighs
‘Gainst laughter, fought for freedom to our Plays;
Unchecked by Megrims of patrician brains,
And damning Dulness of Lord Chamberlains.
Repeal that act! again let Humour roam
Wild o’er the stage—we’ve time for tears at home;
Let Archer plant the horns on Sullen’s brows,
And Estifania gull her “Copper” spouse;
The moral’s scant—but that may be excused,
Men go not to be lectured, but amused.
He whom our plays dispose to Good or Ill
Must wear a head in want of Willis’ skill;
Aye, but Macheath’s example—psha!—no more!
It formed no thieves—the thief was formed before;
And spite of puritans and Collier’s curse,
Plays make mankind no better, and no worse.
Then spare our stage, ye methodistic men!
Nor burn damned Drury if it rise again.
But why to brain-scorched bigots thus appeal?
Can heavenly Mercy dwell with earthly Zeal?
For times of fire and faggot let them hope!
Times dear alike to puritan or Pope.
As pious Calvin saw Servetus blaze,
So would new sects on newer victims gaze.
E’en now the songs of Solyma begin;
Faith cants, perplexed apologist of Sin!
While the Lord’s servant chastens whom he loves,
And Simeon kicks, where Baxter only “shoves.”
Whom Nature guides, so writes, that every dunce,
Enraptured, thinks to do the same at once;
But after inky thumbs and bitten nails,
And twenty scattered quires, the coxcomb fails.
Let Pastoral be dumb; for who can hope
To match the youthful eclogues of our Pope?
Yet his and Philips’ faults, of different kind,
For Art too rude, for Nature too refined,
Instruct how hard the medium ’tis to hit
‘Twixt too much polish and too coarse a wit.
A vulgar scribbler, certes, stands disgraced
In this nice age, when all aspire to taste;
The dirty language, and the noisome jest,
Which pleased in Swift of yore, we now detest;
Proscribed not only in the world polite,
But even too nasty for a City Knight!
Peace to Swift’s faults! his wit hath made them pass,
Unmatched by all, save matchless Hudibras!
Whose author is perhaps the first we meet,
Who from our couplet lopped two final feet;
Nor less in merit than the longer line,
This measure moves a favourite of the Nine.
Though at first view eight feet may seem in vain
Formed, save in Ode, to bear a serious strain,
Yet Scott has shown our wondering isle of late
This measure shrinks not from a theme of weight,
And, varied skilfully, surpasses far
Heroic rhyme, but most in Love and War,
Whose fluctuations, tender or sublime,
Are curbed too much by long-recurring rhyme.
But many a skilful judge abhors to see,
What few admire—irregularity.
This some vouchsafe to pardon; but ’tis hard
When such a word contents a British Bard.
And must the Bard his glowing thoughts confine,
Lest Censure hover o’er some faulty line?
Remove whate’er a critic may suspect,
To gain the paltry suffrage of “Correct”?
Or prune the spirit of each daring phrase,
To fly from Error, not to merit Praise?
Ye, who seek finished models, never cease,
By day and night, to read the works of Greece.
But our good Fathers never bent their brains
To heathen Greek, content with native strains.
The few who read a page, or used a pen,
Were satisfied with Chaucer and old Ben;
The jokes and numbers suited to their taste
Were quaint and careless, anything but chaste;
Yet, whether right or wrong the ancient rules,
It will not do to call our Fathers fools!
Though you and I, who eruditely know
To separate the elegant and low,
Can also, when a hobbling line appears,
Detect with fingers—in default of ears.
In sooth I do not know, or greatly care
To learn, who our first English strollers were;
Or if, till roofs received the vagrant art,
Our Muse, like that of Thespis, kept a cart;
But this is certain, since our Shakespeare’s days,
There’s pomp enough—if little else—in plays;
Nor will Melpomene ascend her Throne
Without high heels, white plume, and Bristol stone.
Old Comedies still meet with much applause,
Though too licentious for dramatic laws;
At least, we moderns, wisely, ’tis confest,
Curtail, or silence, the lascivious jest.
Whate’er their follies, and their faults beside,
Our enterprising Bards pass nought untried;
Nor do they merit slight applause who choose
An English subject for an English Muse,
And leave to minds which never dare invent
French flippancy and German sentiment.
Where is that living language which could claim
Poetic more, as philosophic, fame,
If all our Bards, more patient of delay,
Would stop, like Pope, to polish by the way?
Lords of the quill, whose critical assaults
O’erthrow whole quartos with their quires of faults,
Who soon detect, and mark where’er we fail,
And prove our marble with too nice a nail!
Democritus himself was not so bad;
He only ‘thought’—but ‘you’ would make us—mad!
But truth to say, most rhymers rarely guard
Against that ridicule they deem so hard;
In person negligent, they wear, from sloth,
Beards of a week, and nails of annual growth;
Reside in garrets, fly from those they meet,
And walk in alleys rather than the street.
With little rhyme, less reason, if you please,
The name of Poet may be got with ease,
So that not tuns of helleboric juice
Shall ever turn your head to any use;
Write but like Wordsworth—live beside a lake,
And keep your bushy locks a year from Blake;
Then print your book, once more return to town,
And boys shall hunt your Bardship up and down.
Am I not wise, if such some poets’ plight,
To purge in spring—like Bayes—before I write?
If this precaution softened not my bile,
I know no scribbler with a madder style;
But since (perhaps my feelings are too nice)
I cannot purchase Fame at such a price,
I’ll labour gratis as a grinders’ wheel,
And, blunt myself, give edge to other’s steel,
Nor write at all, unless to teach the art
To those rehearsing for the Poet’s part;
From Horace show the pleasing paths of song,,
And from my own example—what is wrong.
Though modern practice sometimes differs quite,
’Tis just as well to think before you write;
Let every book that suits your theme be read,
So shall you trace it to the fountain-head.
He who has learned the duty which he owes
To friends and country, and to pardon foes;
Who models his deportment as may best
Accord with Brother, Sire, or Stranger-guest;
Who takes our Laws and Worship as they are,
Nor roars reform for Senate, Church, and Bar;
In practice, rather than loud precept, wise,
Bids not his tongue, but heart, philosophize:
Such is the man the Poet should rehearse,
As joint exemplar of his life and verse.
Sometimes a sprightly wit, and tale well told,
Without much grace, or weight, or art, will hold
A longer empire o’er the public mind
Than sounding trifles, empty, though refined.
Unhappy Greece! thy sons of ancient days
The Muse may celebrate with perfect praise,
Whose generous children narrowed not their hearts
With Commerce, given alone to Arms and Arts.
Our boys (save those whom public schools compel
To “Long and Short” before they’re taught to spell)
From frugal fathers soon imbibe by rote,
“A penny saved, my lad, ’s a penny got.”
Babe of a city birth! from sixpence take
The third, how much will the remainder make?—
“A groat.”—”Ah, bravo! Dick hath done the sum!
He’ll swell my fifty thousand to a Plum.”
They whose young souls receive this rust betimes,
’Tis clear, are fit for anything but rhymes;
And Locke will tell you, that the father’s right
Who hides all verses from his children’s sight;
For Poets (says this Sage, and many more,)
Make sad mechanics with their lyric lore:
And Delphi now, however rich of old,
Discovers little silver, and less gold,
Because Parnassus, though a Mount divine,
Is poor as Irus, or an Irish mine.
Two objects always should the Poet move,
Or one or both,—to please or to improve.
Whate’er you teach, be brief, if you design
For our remembrance your didactic line;
Redundance places Memory on the rack,
For brains may be o’erloaded, like the back.
Fiction does best when taught to look like Truth,
And fairy fables bubble none but youth:
Expect no credit for too wondrous tales,
Since Jonas only springs alive from Whales!
Young men with aught but Elegance dispense;
Maturer years require a little Sense.
To end at once:—that Bard for all is fit
Who mingles well instruction with his wit;
For him Reviews shall smile; for him o’erflow
The patronage of Paternoster-row;
His book, with Longman’s liberal aid, shall pass
(Who ne’er despises books that bring him brass);
Through three long weeks the taste of London lead,
And cross St. George’s Channel and the Tweed.
But every thing has faults, nor is’t unknown
That harps and fiddles often lose their tone,
And wayward voices, at their owner’s call,
With all his best endeavours, only squall;
Dogs blink their covey, flints withhold the spark,
And double-barrels (damn them!) miss their mark.
Where frequent beauties strike the reader’s view,
We must not quarrel for a blot or two;
But pardon equally to books or men,
The slips of Human Nature, and the Pen.
Yet if an author, spite of foe or friend,
Despises all advice too much to mend,
But ever twangs the same discordant string,
Give him no quarter, howsoe’er he sing.
Let Havard’s fate o’ertake him, who, for once,
Produced a play too dashing for a dunce:
At first none deemed it his; but when his name
Announced the fact—what then?—it lost its fame.
Though all deplore when Milton deigns to doze,
In a long work ’tis fair to steal repose.
As Pictures, so shall Poems be; some stand
The critic eye, and please when near at hand;
But others at a distance strike the sight;
This seeks the shade, but that demands the light,
Nor dreads the connoisseur’s fastidious view,
But, ten times scrutinised, is ten times new.
Parnassian pilgrims! ye whom chance, or choice,
Hath led to listen to the Muse’s voice,
Receive this counsel, and be timely wise;
Few reach the Summit which before you lies.
Our Church and State, our Courts and Camps, concede
Reward to very moderate heads indeed!
In these plain common sense will travel far;
All are not Erskines who mislead the Bar:
But Poesy between the best and worst
No medium knows; you must be last or first;
For middling Poets’ miserable volumes
Are damned alike by Gods, and Men, and Columns.
Again, my Jeffrey—as that sound inspires,
How wakes my bosom to its wonted fires!
Fires, such as gentle Caledonians feel
When Southrons writhe upon their critic wheel,
Or mild Eclectics, when some, worse than Turks,
Would rob poor Faith to decorate “Good Works.”
Such are the genial feelings them canst claim—
My Falcon flies not at ignoble game.
Mightiest of all Dunedin’s beasts of chase!
For thee my Pegasus would mend his pace.
Arise, my Jeffrey! or my inkless pen
Shall never blunt its edge on meaner men;
Till thee or thine mine evil eye discerns,
“Alas! I cannot strike at wretched kernes.”
Inhuman Saxon! wilt thou then resign
A Muse and heart by choice so wholly thine?
Dear d—d contemner of my schoolboy songs,
Hast thou no vengeance for my Manhood’s wrongs?
If unprovoked thou once could bid me bleed,
Hast thou no weapon for my daring deed?
What! not a word!—and am I then so low?
Wilt thou forbear, who never spared a foe?
Hast thou no wrath, or wish to give it vent?
No wit for Nobles, Dunces by descent?
No jest on “minors,” quibbles on a name,
Nor one facetious paragraph of blame?
Is it for this on Ilion I have stood,
And thought of Homer less than Holyrood?
On shore of Euxine or ægean sea,
My hate, untravelled, fondly turned to thee.
Ah! let me cease! in vain my bosom burns,
From Corydon unkind Alexis turns:
Thy rhymes are vain; thy Jeffrey then forego,
Nor woo that anger which he will not show.
What then?—Edina starves some lanker son,
To write an article thou canst not shun;
Some less fastidious Scotchman shall be found,
As bold in Billingsgate, though less renowned.
As if at table some discordant dish,
Should shock our optics, such as frogs for fish;
As oil in lieu of butter men decry,
And poppies please not in a modern pie;
If all such mixtures then be half a crime,
We must have Excellence to relish rhyme.
Mere roast and boiled no Epicure invites;
Thus Poetry disgusts, or else delights.
Who shoot not flying rarely touch a gun:
Will he who swims not to the river run?
And men unpractised in exchanging knocks
Must go to Jackson ere they dare to box.
Whate’er the weapon, cudgel, fist, or foil,
None reach expertness without years of toil;
But fifty dunces can, with perfect ease,
Tag twenty thousand couplets, when they please.
Why not?—shall I, thus qualified to sit
For rotten boroughs, never show my wit?
Shall I, whose fathers with the “Quorum” sate,
And lived in freedom on a fair estate;
Who left me heir, with stables, kennels, packs,
To ‘all’ their income, and to—’twice’ its tax;
Whose form and pedigree have scarce a fault,
Shall I, I say, suppress my Attic Salt?
Thus think “the Mob of Gentlemen;” but you,
Besides all this, must have some Genius too.
Be this your sober judgment, and a rule,
And print not piping hot from Southey’s school,
Who (ere another Thalaba appears),
I trust, will spare us for at least nine years.
And hark’ye, Southey! pray—but don’t be vexed—
Burn all your last three works—and half the next.
But why this vain advice? once published, books
Can never be recalled—from pastry-cooks!
Though “Madoc,” with “Pucelle,” instead of Punk,
May travel back to Quito—on a trunk!
Orpheus, we learn from Ovid and Lempriere,
Led all wild beasts but Women by the ear;
And had he fiddled at the present hour,
We’d seen the Lions waltzing in the Tower;
And old Amphion, such were minstrels then,
Had built St. Paul’s without the aid of Wren.
Verse too was Justice, and the Bards of Greece
Did more than constables to keep the peace;
Abolished cuckoldom with much applause,
Called county meetings, and enforced the laws,
Cut down crown influence with reforming scythes,
And served the Church—without demanding tithes;
And hence, throughout all Hellas and the East,
Each Poet was a Prophet and a Priest,
Whose old-established Board of Joint Controls
Included kingdoms in the cure of souls.
Next rose the martial Homer, Epic’s prince,
And Fighting’s been in fashion ever since;
And old Tyrtæus, when the Spartans warred,
(A limping leader, but a lofty bard)
Though walled Ithome had resisted long,
Reduced the fortress by the force of song.
When Oracles prevailed, in times of old,
In song alone Apollo’s will was told.
Then if your verse is what all verse should be,
And Gods were not ashamed on’t, why should we?
The Muse, like mortal females, may be wooed;
In turns she’ll seem a Paphian, or a prude;
Fierce as a bride when first she feels affright,
Mild as the same upon the second night;
Wild as the wife of Alderman or Peer,
Now for His Grace, and now a grenadier!
Her eyes beseem, her heart belies, her zone—
Ice in a crowd—and Lava when alone.
If Verse be studied with some show of Art.
Kind Nature always will perform her part;
Though without Genius, and a native vein
Of wit, we loathe an artificial strain,
Yet Art and Nature joined will win the prize,
Unless they act like us and our allies.
The youth who trains to ride, or run a race,
Must bear privations with unruffled face,
Be called to labour when he thinks to dine,
And, harder still, leave wenching and his wine.
Ladies who sing, at least who sing at sight,
Have followed Music through her farthest flight;
But rhymers tell you neither more nor less,
“I’ve got a pretty poem for the Press;”
And that’s enough; then write and print so fast;—
If Satan take the hindmost, who’d be last?
They storm the Types, they publish, one and all,
They leap the counter, and they leave the stall.
Provincial Maidens, men of high command,
Yea! Baronets have inked the bloody hand!
Cash cannot quell them; Pollio played this prank,
(Then Phoebus first found credit in a Bank!)
Not all the living only, but the dead,
Fool on, as fluent as an Orpheus’ Head;
Damned all their days, they posthumously thrive,
Dug up from dust, though buried when alive!
Reviews record this epidemic crime,
Those Books of Martyrs to the rage for rhyme.
Alas! woe worth the scribbler! often seen
In Morning Post, or Monthly Magazine.
There lurk his earlier lays; but soon, hot pressed,
Behold a Quarto!—Tarts must tell the rest.
Then leave, ye wise, the Lyre’s precarious chords
To muse-mad baronets, or madder lords,
Or country Crispins, now grown somewhat stale,
Twin Doric minstrels, drunk with Doric ale!
Hark to those notes, narcotically soft!
The Cobbler-Laureats sing to Capel Lofft!
Till, lo! that modern Midas, as he hears,
Adds an ell growth to his egregious ears!
There lives one Druid, who prepares in time
‘Gainst future feuds his poor revenge of rhyme;
Racks his dull Memory, and his duller Muse,
To publish faults which Friendship should excuse.
If Friendship’s nothing, Self-regard might teach
More polished usage of his parts of speech.
But what is shame, or what is aught to him?
He vents his spleen, or gratifies his whim.
Some fancied slight has roused his lurking hate,
Some folly crossed, some jest, or some debate;
Up to his den Sir Scribbler hies, and soon
The gathered gall is voided in Lampoon.
Perhaps at some pert speech you’ve dared to frown,
Perhaps your Poem may have pleased the Town:
If so, alas! ’tis nature in the man—
May Heaven forgive you, for he never can!
Then be it so; and may his withering Bays
Bloom fresh in satire, though they fade in praise
While his lost songs no more shall steep and stink
The dullest, fattest weeds on Lethe’s brink,
But springing upwards from the sluggish mould,
Be (what they never were before) be—sold!
Should some rich Bard (but such a monster now,
In modern Physics, we can scarce allow),
Should some pretending scribbler of the Court,
Some rhyming Peer—there’s plenty of the sort—
All but one poor dependent priest withdrawn,
(Ah! too regardless of his Chaplain’s yawn!)
Condemn the unlucky Curate to recite
Their last dramatic work by candle-light,
How would the preacher turn each rueful leaf,
Dull as his sermons, but not half so brief!
Yet, since ’tis promised at the Rector’s death,
He’ll risk no living for a little breath.
Then spouts and foams, and cries at every line,
(The Lord forgive him!) “Bravo! Grand! Divine!”
Hoarse with those praises (which, by Flatt’ry fed,
Dependence barters for her bitter bread),
He strides and stamps along with creaking boot;
Till the floor echoes his emphatic foot,
Then sits again, then rolls his pious eye,
As when the dying vicar will not die!
Nor feels, forsooth, emotion at his heart;—
But all Dissemblers overact their part.
Ye, who aspire to “build the lofty rhyme,”
Believe not all who laud your false “sublime;”
But if some friend shall hear your work, and say,
“Expunge that stanza, lop that line away,”
And, after fruitless efforts, you return
Without amendment, and he answers, “Burn!”
That instant throw your paper in the fire,
Ask not his thoughts, or follow his desire;
But (if true Bard!) you scorn to condescend,
And will not alter what you can’t defend,
If you will breed this Bastard of your Brains,
We’ll have no words—I’ve only lost my pains.
Yet, if you only prize your favourite thought,
As critics kindly do, and authors ought;
If your cool friend annoy you now and then,
And cross whole pages with his plaguy pen;
No matter, throw your ornaments aside,—
Better let him than all the world deride.
Give light to passages too much in shade,
Nor let a doubt obscure one verse you’ve made;
Your friend’s a “Johnson,” not to leave one word,
However trifling, which may seem absurd;
Such erring trifles lead to serious ills,
And furnish food for critics, or their quills.
As the Scotch fiddle, with its touching tune,
Or the sad influence of the angry Moon,
All men avoid bad writers’ ready tongues,
As yawning waiters fly Fitzscribble’s lungs;
Yet on he mouths—ten minutes—tedious each
As Prelate’s homily, or placeman’s speech;
Long as the last years of a lingering lease,
When Riot pauses until Rents increase.
While such a minstrel, muttering fustian, strays
O’er hedge and ditch, through unfrequented ways,
If by some chance he walks into a well,
And shouts for succour with stentorian yell,
“A rope! help, Christians, as ye hope for grace!”
Nor woman, man, nor child will stir a pace;
For there his carcass he might freely fling,
From frenzy, or the humour of the thing.
Though this has happened to more Bards than one;
I’ll tell you Budgell’s story,—and have done.
Budgell, a rogue and rhymester, for no good,
(Unless his case be much misunderstood)
When teased with creditors’ continual claims,
“To die like Cato,” leapt into the Thames!
And therefore be it lawful through the town
For any Bard to poison, hang, or drown.
Who saves the intended Suicide receives
Small thanks from him who loathes the life he leaves;
And, sooth to say, mad poets must not lose
The Glory of that death they freely choose.
Nor is it certain that some sorts of verse
Prick not the Poet’s conscience as a curse;
Dosed with vile drams on Sunday he was found,
Or got a child on consecrated ground!
And hence is haunted with a rhyming rage—
Feared like a bear just bursting from his cage.
If free, all fly his versifying fit,
Fatal at once to Simpleton or Wit:
But ‘him’, unhappy! whom he seizes,—’him’
He flays with Recitation limb by limb;
Probes to the quick where’er he makes his breach,
And gorges like a Lawyer—or a Leech.
She assumes I don't care
And all that she does
Ends up in cruel despair.
She puts up a show
And buys me a bow
Until she feels empty, sad and low.
In a box that I chose
That smells of orchids so special
Lies the bow, like a rose.
For all that she ponders yet knows not
The times that we've spat and fought
Will remain as memories that shan't rot.
For on a pedestal she stands
In my heart, deep and within
'Cause I'm an angel in her hands.