Just Like the Poets Do


The story of poetry’s a long one

Forever, all the way through

So I might as well make it about myself

Just like the poets do.

As a student I hated poetry

In many ways, I still do.

As a boy I found it too emotional

As most teenage boys will do.

When I was told to write one in English class

I was baffled–and very angry too!

So I did my best to offend everyone

Just like the poets do.

When I was in college, in some curio called “Creative Writing 202”

It was poetry we were required to do.

So I wrote something hideous and vile

As I presumed all the best poets would do.

It was the story of necrophiliac, pedophilic rape

A grotesque piece of wretch and goo.

And when two students walked out of class

I believed myself a true poet, like any young poet would do.

So I got really pretentious, for a while

Zim-zim, zoom-zoom, lingual gymnastics all the way through

This can be easily justified by condemning the audience that doesn’t get you

Just like the poet’s do.

Underappreciated, angry, my arrogance came to a boil

That sense of injustice formed a rage-filled glue.

And then I started mocking everything, pretentiousness gone,

Like not enough poets do.

You start to call yourself a critic–or even worse, a satirist.

You’re gonna show them what you can do.

Of life can interfere with artistic fantasy

Just like a family will do.

So we call ourselves “professional writers” while our income is barely minimal

You need a job, gotta take care of them, you do.

And then romantic, loving parodies, 

Prove themselves untrue.

Sometimes bitterness or sorrow overwhelms us

Poetic history proves this is true.

Commit Suicide?

They do.

Often quiet ridiculously

A brief biography to get us through?

Re-meet Sylvia Plath, goddess to some, a talented sad sack, or even garbage, to the rest of us, always whining:

She went like the poets do.

Three times, suicide

is what she tried to do.

The first was a classic overdose, boring really, far too trite for such a dramatic creature as her

The following story is true:

She snuck into the basement with a bottle full of her mother’s sleeping pills.  She guzzled them.

And she failed to die, which made her even more blue.

    Nine years later she drove her car off the road, into a river.  She had two children then.  It is uncertain, despite her self-pitying confession, if her intent was to actually kill herself, or if she merely lost her mind and pulled over in a panic and–oh shit!–the car started sinking into the water, like Virginia Woolf (who, in an even more awful detail, drowned herself in the river, but her body was swept away, only to be discovered three weeks later to finally end the furious panic she’d made her husband and sister endure).

Another failure–the next time it’ll be true!

So in 1963, her buddy, a doctor (general practitioner), listened to her go on and on about her misery and how awful everything was, crying hysterically, clearly in crisis.  He prescribed her an anti-depressant–a strong one.

What else was he supposed to do?

Her Death?  She taped, toweled, and blanketed all the doors to the kitchen and her children’s room, then she turned the gas oven on and shoved her head inside.

Come morning, imagine what those children were forced to go through?

Here’s something hilarious: some critics attempt to claim that Plath had no intention of killing themselves, and provide all kinds of feminist, communist, fascist, gender-fluid, and repressed homosexual interpretations on this act.

I try to wonder who thinks this.  Who?

How can people think this?  She put her head in an oven and sealed the doors,  It was 4:30 in the morning when she committed to this act.  The arguments made are absurd: before she did it Sylvia had thoroughly cleaned the kitchen, wrote several contrary notes, trying to decide if she should finally do it, and left a message for her children’s nurse to call her doctor when she got there.

I suppose that’s what the young poets will do.

Even Sylvia’s sister acknowledged what happened, certainly knowing her better than the generation later critics who selfishly impose their interpretation on the work of others.

Just like poetry instructors will do.

And so poetry turned into storytelling,

A dense study of human history too.

And I revised my judgment

On just what it is that poetry can do.

Because all writing is poetry

Especially what we take to be true.

Bibles, conspiracy theories, racial and biological fundamentalisms, radical sports fandom, apocalyptic anarchy, rumors, the best of people, the worst of people, a head shake of pity, a smug smile, indifference, and the tar on the rim of happiness that is toxic cynicism.

Shopping lists are poetry too.

And so now I’m tired (or ‘burned out’), 

As so often poets boohoo

I’m gonna go find a selfish entertainment to distract me

Just like a poet would do.


© 2020 Lance Polin


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