200 bad poems (153-200)

Can you believe this idiot did it. I thought he would never finish. Indeed it seemed like he never would. But in any case here are the final 48 bad poems.

conference
for more than a week I stopped making these
it was too much, to do this and imagine myself flying just one hour away
to deliver a fifteen minute talk to a seven-person audience

excuse in an email
“I’m sorry, I thought that I could that I could see past
it, but it turns out I can’t, this stupid talk
keeps circling in my head”

anticipating things you’ve never done
some get excited
others anxious, imagining every possibility
I stare, like a snake has captured me with hypnosis

modern academia
I should have known it was no big deal
when the conference kept sending me emails
advertising discounted rooms for $200 a night

your final ultrasound
in this appointment there are three possible outcomes:
first, a healthy baby; second, a baby, maybe, not so healthy;
third, you are carrying a tiny dinosaur in your womb

wand in the jelly
okay here we have what looks like an arm…
so far so good… that flesh looks pink and fat to me…
oh… bad luck… this claw says you’ve got a Deinonychus

nature finds a way
when you’re carrying a dinosaur you’re flown
to a remote island compound where a man in a white lab coat
sits you down in a makeshift nest and urges you to “complete”

literary readings
oh how I love to see writers walk up and down
to the microphone, up and down from the podium,
where they read from a few pages and sit back down again

escaping
standing in a large crowd paths form between the people milling
and you are forced to wonder as you plot your maneuvers
why it seems so intolerable to talk to any person

pause for thanks
the next time I read I am going to pause after every paragraph
and wait for such a long time that people think I am finished
and begin speaking again and again through their applause

wine glasses are not for that
when you are finished with your wine glass do not
put it on the floor, do not step on it, do not squeeze it
in your hands until the delicate glass shatters

more things you should not do with wine glasses
do not take a bite out of your wine glass like it is
a cake or a delicate pastry, do not grind the wine glass
slowly into your palm, do not throw it suddenly against the wall

after every poet
I am first to the bar table, where I get another glass:
pointing first to the cab, then the superior shiraz,
then I guess the pinot, then the shiraz again

professional dog breeders
they took a test in Mississauga
now they’re on a flight with us to Washington
they talk loudly and seem horrible: their idol is Warren Buffet

when is it time to idolize Warren Buffet?
when you want to pretend your love of money
is anodyne, when you decide you want to fetishize
eight dollar haircuts, and exploitation, for the rest of your life

more about Warren Buffet
in my dad’s many books about our friend W
he is always portrayed sitting with humility
in an empty room surrounded by admirers, receiving petition after petition

eight dollar haircuts
imagine how wanton, how reckless
a man with 82.3 billion dollars
would be if he spent upwards of thirty dollars on his hair

believing in God in the fourteenth century
and here’s the moat where the sinners are whipped
and here’s the pool of tar where everyone drowns perpetually
oh—this is great, these guys stand up to their necks in excrement

but there’s more
these guys go around with prongs and fish out the bodies
these guys wear lead coats and walk very slowly
and the heads of these ones look out over their butts

Dante escapes hell
climbing with Virgil down Satan’s back
then through a hole between the legs
Dante looks up, surprised not to see Satan’s balls

USA: white uber driver
complains about his dad, a bastard, who forced his brother to play
football, and break himself, because he never could, but
my driver, he didn’t play, that showed his pops (now dead—driver’s 58)

USA: “be careful in this neighbourhood”
did you notice how I didn’t honk my horn
or get angry at that car? you have to be careful here
one wrong move could get you killed

USA: black uber driver
“you’re staying near my place, that’s great, I can go home”
I tell him it seems quiet there, and he turns around
looks at me, sincerely: “it is”

spring
push the box out blocking the hallway
open the door to the balcony
bask in the piles of racooon shit

more of this
last Sunday I laid my coat down
on the grass of the National Mall
and read Pascal Duarte while ice cream trucks rang their bells

homesick in Washington
if you’re from Toronto and you’re
the only one left from that city
walk to the Hirshhorn and look at the Henry Moore

otherwise
buy Kraft peanut butter
on the internet, and incessantly google
“Tennis champion Bianca Andreescu”

“the end of the nightmare is right now”
I wrote that in my notebook two weeks ago
a title for a poem: now I’m not sure
what it was referring to—I guess this nightmare is ongoing

“our long national nightmare”
this means something else: a shared dream
in which everyone closes their eyes
and twitches fearfully in bed

the professor is pulling his old tricks
standing confused at the blackboard
shuffling quietly through his notes
awkwardly clearing his throat

the students are “wise” to him
diligently reading the textbook
asking questions when the lecture is over
drafting their essays weeks in advance

a grocery kick
yeah, I’m not eating out as much—
I discovered this thing called “groceries”
you buy the ingredients and put them together?

it’s like magic
wait!—you could eat that carrot as is
but watch what happens
when it sits in this pot

a nice thing about America
when you open the stall door and there’s someone
sitting with his pants around his ankles
you don’t have to feel shy telling a bystander that now you “have to leave”

the nice thing, explained
Americans will talk to you
instead of wondering forever
whether it would be polite to speak up

in my case
the silver-haired, average-looking white man
met my eyes and chuckled earnestly
as we scurried away

almost done
out of 200 poems
I have twelve more to do
(now eleven)

“open for business”
idiotically, I feel motivated to end this project
with ten poems inspired by Dante’s journey
through the darkest spaces—and our new hell

a valley
I was wandering alone through a hollow
trying to ascend a ridge, but a large man with slicked-back hair
kept bumping into me, grinding his round teeth, snorting powder

limbo
here a crowd of Greeks sits on a Danforth patio
they were still lamenting the performance of Ford the younger
on stage, wasted at a “Taste of” festival years before

lust
according to Aristotle, the prime moving force
is love—it keeps the planets in orbit, more reliably
than your corpulence, using a twenty to bring yourself to completion

gluttony
god, this is stupid—I mean this whole project
and also to write a poem about gluttony for a man whose
hunger is never-ending, who works his jaws snapping chicken bones

greed
“low hanging fruit”: this poem, and something our large father
picks easily from the branches of this province
while juice drips from his monstrous lips

wrath
I’m looking forward to the day
two fat flames burn with the violence
of the Theban pyre shared by two brothers

heresy
listen I’m already exhausted
by these half-assed
political poems

violence
what would it take to save us from the forces
claiming to stick up for “the little guy”
by squeezing them for all that they’re worth?

fraud
there are all kinds of fraud, which is
knowing misrepresentation or false counsel:
for good reason it’s one of the lowest circles of hell

treachery
anyway in hell’s darkest circle, that guy with slicked-back hair
from before, he was being chewed in each of Satan’s three mouths
and Jesus Christ was sitting in a lawn chair, cheering Satan on

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