I've been digging through some old photos and other memorabilia this week. Mostly to dig out comical pictures of my past glory days in the Boston music scene. I've been busy scanning and putting them out on my MySpace site for my friends to laugh about. I'm also itchy from all the dust. And please don't talk to me about mites. I'm going to pretend that all of this itching is from dust. OK? So just don't even go there.
But one of the treasures (and I say that with tongue planted firmly in cheek) that I unearthed was a journal in which I was attempting to compile all of my "finished works". And by finished works, I mean things I thought were poetry or "writings" or who knows what I thought they were.
Now I have to share with you my former smug attitude about such things. Most "poetry" that is written by high schoolers or the collegiate sort is drivel. There are a blessed few that stand out in this field as having actual talent. The larger majority does not. I was smart enough to figure this out rather early in high school as I read over my school's "Idiom". It was crap. With very few exceptions. I was not smart enough, however, to recognize that mine was probably some of the worse crap therein. No, smug younger me knew mine wasn't exactly ee cummings. But it wasn't as bad as all of theirs. When I entered college, this general smug attitude continued and probably got worse. The collegiate me should have been slapped. And often.
Anyway, during my college summers, I worked at a huge computer company in NY. I was lucky enough to meet someone who was even more cynical and smug than myself. And she understood my distaste with the bad poetry churned out by the pre-emo generation of which we were part. We discussed things and coined the phrase "insta-poetry". This was usually the type of thing youngsters mistook for poetry. If it's vague, ambiguous, has bad or no punctuation and is extremely brief, it MUST be good poetry. Oh, and it has to sound very very profound. Which is usually where the plethora of $7 words comes in. I think we were all trying to be the new Laurie Anderson (you youngsters can Wiki her here). We entertained ourselves during our breaks by coming up with examples of insta-poetry that usually left us in stitches. Oh weren't we ever so clever! I found some of that stuff, too. And it's still pretty funny. Not as funny as we thought it was initially. But it still makes me laugh inside.
But the horrific stuff I found is the stuff that I wrote and "really meant it". This collection of short missives is to poetry what the American Idol auditions are to singing. It's like someone gave me a thesaurus and dictionary of synonyms and told me I had talent.
But I have no pride. I am not ashamed of my youthful horrors. And to bare my lack of poetic talent, I will share with you a few snippets. I will also remind you that I titled this journal my "Finished Works." (shudder)
Insta-Poem #97 (for Tara F)
smoke intrigues me
i could put it down
smoke intrigues me
Oh that one gave us fits for a while. It still makes me giggle. You just have to understand what a couple of arrogant idiots we were to appreciate the humor. You also have to hear the right cadence and place some pregnant pauses - just so - in order to get the full effect. I mean, picture William Shatner as Captain Kirk reading that. And you'll be close. If you're familiar with Laurie Anderson, it was much more like her spoken word. Oh forget it. Just take my word that it's funny.
This next one is bad. I mean, the title alone shows I probably misread a thesaurus because I don't have any idea what I thought it meant and I can't find it with Google or Dictionary.com.
Wanting to be totally void
damned to awareness
by bright banners
mass display of vanity
an ocean of faces
take on the semblance
of people, talk, ideas
I, the nonconformist
shy from belonging
but somehow fit
caught in a tide
to act the part
OK, that one got me laughing so hard as I typed it! I won't bore you with any more. But I'll just give you a few more titles and you can just use your imagination to fill in the embarrassment. I mean, I was a computer/physics/math major, for the love of Pete! But here are some of my very very profound titles:
- Pepsi Can (which was an ode to an empty Pepsi can)
- Lament (about continually choosing the wrong men)
- Solitude (about...yes, you guessed it...being alone)
- Dear John (goodness I was unimaginative)
- Psalmodye (which is actually a pretty good praise to God sticking with us through the mud but the title just ruins it for me!)
and last but not least...
- PMS (a long stream of consciousness rant that, based on the content, was written while I was in that state)
So all of you wonderful writers that I have befriended through this blog, fear not. I will not be stealing any literary thunder. Be assured of that!
The funny thing is, one of the best songs I've written was taken from a collection of insta-poems that Tara and I sent each other as jokes. So they're good for something. Hmmm...maybe I should start picking the carcasses of these little gems...