Thursday, February 14, 2013

False Start Valentine: Bad Poetry, Oh Noetry

We're back with more literary false starts, this time on le day le amour.  Please visit the others to maximize the love!  I've promised to break open my cursed necronomicon of verses.  Let the snickers commence.

In the earliest ones, from roughly 1985 to 1987, I stuck with common meter (fun fact: you can sing any Emily Dickinson poem to the tune of the Yellow Rose of Texas).  Topics ranged from the D&D-ish...

The magic that has gone away
Persuades us all to yearn
For that fine ecstatic day
The dragons will return.

to the self-help-ish...

Just leave me with my books and friends
And happy I will be.
For why live life as someone else,
When I can just be me?

The romantic stuff?  Gotta wait for it.  You first have to suffer through my discovery of T. S. Eliot and the modernists, when I started to incorporate automatic writing and hypnagogic words.  Here's "Sothis" in its entirety from 1991...

Fine fires of the nightly brigade,
Your eternal afterness rhythm circuits the sky.
Envision an ancient fear, human nation;
The rupture of seasonal scales, a ruddy
morning opal.
Drench to the western; rage to the decans!
Our guest, oblivionbound, evaporates
the hollow hypothesis.
Free as heartburn under an aesthetic sun.

What, you can't tell it's about a big controversy in the field of archaeo-astronomy?  :-)

My "masterpiece" from that time was a seven-part epic called Grand Unification.  It followed the form of the 7 chakras and tried to be an emanationist creation myth.  It was also quite terrible.

No, really.  Cringe-inducingly bad.  Trust me.  I don't think my problem was a lack of good ideas, but more an invincible unwillingness to edit my first drafts.  Once it was down on paper, it was sacred.  Add to that a surplus of name-drops from every bit of literature and mythology I had ever soaked up, and you get a very hot mess.  In looking it over again after many years, I see that, for some reason, the cringes come least when I'm asking questions... from this paean to a vacant creator god...

Our ignorance still plays on open ground
When we gaze into your infinitude.
Were you a nothingness bereft of soul?
Or was there magic in your solitude?

to this bit of musing on the third eye and exile...

Who fights for the night in spite of first light?
And blinded by brightness sets out to unite?

Who fashions with passion and full of grim ration
The thirtytwo musical names of compassion?

Who looks out on a cosmos distressed to destroy?
Driven mad by diversity only sees joy?

Who prays to a misanthrope harlequin ghost
In twilight agape before all nature's host?

Certainly not as terrible as the other parts -- at least here weren't any ham-fisted allusions to James Joyce, Joseph Campbell, and Conan the Barbarian -- but still in need of a lot of work if I were to ever want to do anything with it.

I was so this guy.
Thereabouts 1990 or so came the Serious Relationship that launched a thousand doggerel-filled ships.  It took me a while to figure out which piece of lovey dovey-ness to post.  I boiled it down to a choice between two extremes: one optimistic (all beginnings and rainbows) and one pessimistic (all moody and obsessive).  The choice fell on the fact that all of my forays into sunshine and lollipops were just plain trite and BAD. Oh, the darker one is also bad, too, but maybe the depth of genuine, albeit raw, feeling pulls it through.

Don't worry, though.  There is happiness at the end of this post.

Let me also preface it by making it clear that names have been changed to protect the not so innocent.  Okay, now I'll give you what you came here for.  This is "Liebestod."

I still don't sleep Justine.
I thought it was over Justine.
But in a dream Justine.
Your face was before me Justine.

I walk through the crowds Justine.
I listen to the people who know the answers Justine.
I drink and I joke Justine.
I read my books Justine.
And your face is before me Justine.

I want to remember Justine.
I want to forget Justine.

I look at my pictures of you Justine.
I remember the feel and taste of you Justine.
I laugh for your energy Justine.
I cry for your pain Justine.
You fade away Justine.

And all that I am Justine,
Although I know better Justine,
Still needs you

Yee-ikes.  In a recent TV show, the characters were musing about obsession in love, and how there's just a thin, thin line between a "Dobler" and a "Dahmer."  I think that just writing the above was enough to get the obsession out of my system... And also, just a month or two after all that unpleasantness, I met the woman to whom I've now been happily married for 21 years.  There's been lots of poetry there, too, but I'm not posting that.  :-)


  1. I dunno, they're not any worse than your average Neil Peart or Jon Anderson lyric.

    1. Thanks, Roger! I've always fantasized about being some band's lyric ghostwriter.

      Though, years ago, I'd have taken personal offense at hearing someone compare Neil's Holy Writ to anyone else's words... including my own! :-) :-)

  2. '...there's just a thin, thin line between a "Dobler" and a "Dahmer."'

    I laughed. Loud enough to scare my dog. I had a bf in college who, after we broke up, slid anguished poems under my dorm-room door. One of the "poems" was actually the lyrics to the Eagles' song "Desperado." We'd been going out two months. Oh, the humanity! Nothing he wrote (erm, especially not the song lyrics) was as good as your Justine. So ... take that for what it's worth. :)

    I'm off to find some Emily Dickenson poems, and to brush up on my Yellow Rose of Texas.

    1. Woops, I turned poor Emily into a Swede. DickenSON.

    2. "Justine" was college, too. I was out ridin' fences with the rest of them...

      Full disclosure: I heard the Yellow Rose of Texas thing on a TV show. Most people who talk about common meter these days seem to use the Gilligan's Island theme song as the singable template.

  3. I smiled at, 'I was so this guy,' because I remember the context of that particular episode.

    Well. Truth. Most of what I'm thinking to say in response to what is in this post I'd rather write in an email. So keep a heads up for it, friend.

    1. Upon reflection, maybe I should have looked for a picture from that teen-angst flashback when he was rockin' a 'stache and poking away on a smaller Casio... :-)

  4. Worthy Valentine collection, and excellent prelude to a happy Lupercalia!

    1. Thanks, Geo! A wolf-howling holiday... too on the nose, I think. :-)

  5. Our ignorance still plays on open ground
    When we gaze into your infinitude.
    Were you a nothingness bereft of soul?
    Or was there magic in your solitude?

    Tis rather lovely and thoughtful.
    The Justine piece reminds me of translations on the cover of an old vinyl I have, of Edith Piaf singing in french. She would have rocked these words :-)
    Happy Valentine!

    1. I don't know much about Edith, but the French surrealists were my peeps in those days. (My April A-Z's will have more on them, I think...)

  6. You have a Lloyd Dobler reference in your post. That's all that really matters. We're going to get along just fine.

    Happy Valentine's Day!

    1. I should watch Say Anything again... it's been ages. In my mind, the go-to Cusack is (1) Gib from The Sure Thing, then (2) Lane from Better Off Dead.

    2. Gib, Lane, Dob -- in that order.

      Or, wait. Lane, Gib, Dob.

      Oh, never mind.

    3. I like when John and Joan are in movies together... even when not playing siblings, they play off one another so genuinely.

      Now, the definitive Curtis Armstrong sidekick list is: (1) Risky Business, (2) Better Off Dead, and only then (3) Revenge of the Nerds. Oh wait... Moonlighting trumps them all... because of him and Miss Depesto!

    4. I was going to mention Charles de Mar!

      Despite its unqualified gore, I did watch and enjoy 'Grosse Point Blank' (sp? I never can remember where the 'e's at the end of the first two words go and don't go.) Joan was wonderful in that film. And John and Minnie Driver were exquisitely-matched.

      Did you ever watch 'Moon Over Miami?' It was most definitely a flash in the pan but I remember really liking it.

    5. Didn't see either... I should catch up on my Cusack. (I've also never seen Being John Malkovich, which they say he was great in.)

    6. Oh, gotta chime in here!

      Dobler's my personal hero - totally without pretense and everybody loves him.

      My favorite line from Grosse Point Blank: "I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How've you been?"

    7. HA! Mine (from Joan): 'I went to my ten-year reunion. It was as if though everyone had swelled.'

    8. Aww Jezuz... I Love the Dob. This weekend at the local cinema, Say Anything is playing. I would totally love to go but would start writing shit poetry afterwards, and I cannot let myself go there. Maybe if it wasn't such a sweet flick or I wasn't feeling icky about love/lack thereof... oh who cares? I can write bad poetry anytime!
      Fun post by the way.

    9. Yeah, sometimes it's best to avoid the temptations. I have to stay away from Jerry McGuire, since it always makes me want to write a scathing manifesto about all the things wrong with my profession...

    10. No... just an absent-minded scientist. I've been at conferences, like Jerry, where I've been tempted to start typing up that Catcher In The Rye covered rant! ;-)

      (By the way, I'm actually not that much of a fan of the main romance part of JM... through it all, he remains smarmy, and she remains a bit of a dishtowel... but that part at the beginning sings.)

  7. Hey! Not cringe-worthy at all!

    Good for you for having the guts to post love poetry you wrote in college. Don't believe I'm quite that gutsy. I was reeeeeeeally corny. I mean, even more than I am NOW.

    1. Well, in part, the guts come from posting as Cygnus, not as Xxxxxx X. Xxxxxxx. :-) A few years ago, I participated in several online forums under my own name, and I stressed out SO much more over perceptions and negative feedback. Kudos to you, person with real name! :-)