It is all so clear, the way you can see through dirt if you are motionless and glazed for twenty minutes on the side of the beltway shattered from the sonic reverberations from speeding cars and seething hearts.
Clarity, sad substitute for sincerity, on the side of the road a few inches away from oncoming traffic but miles away from the next whole, wholesome human spirit. The kind of alone you pay whores to provide. World is wrapped around you; bittersoursweet, sick and shallow; sorry.
It is the year nineteen-ninety-six, year of the rat and I fit right in. It is all so clear. Snot-nosed, obsequious. The first poem I ever write is a treacherous testament to adolescent self-mockery: only, I am not aware of the self-
It is the year nineteen-ninety-seven, year of the ox. I discover the breakup poem not long after I discover the breakup not long after I discover the angry girlfriend archetype not long after I discover that some females are in fact interested in things other than Eddie Vedder. The novelty defies holism and ramps it up in a cloud of self-sacrificial separation; myself a creature of black and white, oil and water on the brain and the grey doesn't matter. The poem is 500 lines long and doesn't make sense, yet still I am the arbiter of good and evil. The mad russian tells me "this is not poetry." I shrug it off. Teachers are antiquated. I am the new order.
It is the year nineteen-ninety-eight, year of the tiger. I am the avenging angel of asshole and still the goth girl with pert breasts and quizzical eyebrows grapples with my sheets. I read her my love poem in loose pentameter with her insides wrapped around me; bittersoursweet, sick and shallow; sorry. When she leaves I write a sonnet and five more intricate metrical romances to my own infallible appetite for martyrdom:
They say you have to love yourself before you love another. I should have been prepared to love thousands of anothers; but, alas, no other. Most people don't understand irony, the same way blue whales don't understand a sharp cup of coffee. I didn't understand either, then.
It is the year nineteen-ninety-nine, year of the rabbit and I'm fucking like one. I scramble out of coitus long enough to read her my Valentine's Day poem. What she knows is that I'm better than her coffee shop compatriots. What I know is that I wrote the first verse in blood before transcribing it to girlfriend-safe stationary. I am still oil and water, smeared on the lens of the laser of lies. It is all so clear, the way you stare still into the pastel horizon and watch those tiny transparent dots swim around in the theatre of your optical nerves.
Later I am under a spotlight flicking my tongue at the microphone as if it were an erect and defiant nipple. I am moaning and swerving and swaying to the beat of my own idiot cadence. The confusion never sets in: am I a poet, porn star, or just really fond of aural pleasure?
It is the year two-thousand-and-nothing, year of the dragon and I am crouching hidden behind the event horizon of the coffee house stage. When a liar is ripped from his lie, he feels gravity that much thicker and bolder. Each action takes on an additional significance: each, heavier with the dead weight of vindictive vigilance. My girlfriend falls in love with her own mediocrity and runs away: what I didn't realize is that she learned this from me. And later I am sucked into the stage where all time and light compress in an infinite density: the supermassive center of the universe around which all else spirals. I am he. It is me. And I pound my verse ever closer to the truth, if by truth you mean two lies making right in the middle of the night.
I didn't then. I didn't mean anything then.
It is the year two-thousand-and-one, year of the snake. Gasoline and creative differences lay waste to the smouldering ruins of the coffee house. Later that year, that unsavory combination would revisit several other standing structures in America. But until then, I am in full swing. I am writing love songs to generations passed: a note to Shelley, a lullaby to Keats. I write the mad russian a poem and misstate decades of history and honor. I write to the girl I loved when I was ten years old and confused love with Caution: Moving Parts. May not be suitable for children under the age of forever.
I am a new Romantic, harbinger of formalist revisitation. I am the resurrector of traditions long since solidified and vanished into the rolling misty hills of contemporary obsolescence. I write iambs and trochees and spondees in dimeter and trimeter and tetrameter and pentameter and hexametawhatever until my fingers bleed and crack with the rapture of Romantic resurrection. I am doing the world a service only I can provide. I give my poems as gifts. How else will two months' arrogance and lies last forever?
Remember it now, because honest: you'll only hear it once. There is no difference between adolescence and obsolescence.
It is the year two-thousand-and-two, year of the horse and yes that's hor-se like the sleek beasts you ride and not whor-es as in the sleek beasts you ride. I am fundamentally affected by the loss of human life. I am fundamentally affected by the transparent warmongering that follows. I am fundamentally affected by fundamentalists. And I pump out a few more heartbreaking works of staggering genius before I sink into ennui and decay. It is all so clear, the way this tanker burns. This isn't an environmental disaster: I've been leaking oil steadily into the water for years now and there's nothing left with which to pollute or burn. It is now all diffused into the currents of apathy and the breathtaking span of short attention. Never before did I wonder why people smirked at my insistence that Yes, I am a Poet but I am Really a Real Poet. I thought it was natural resistance to formalism. It was actually a natural resistance to utter shit.
It is the year right fucking now, and two days ago I gave up poetry for good. The same way I gave up redheads: I knew all of a sudden through enough resistance that this was not a good idea. It is all so clear, the way you look at yourself in the mirror and see flies circling the sweltering mass of vaguely bipedal feces. This is not me. This is a college carryover. This is a time capsule from adolescence and I'm serious: there is no difference between adolescence and obsolescence. This is the sick dog whimpering for your shotgun. This is the dried up porn starlet whose bloodstream has been pierced by silicone. This is the iron lung still seething for nicotine. I am no savior. I am no harbinger. I am no supermassive center of the universe.
I am no poet, not at all, not slightly, not sort of. Not before, not during, not after, not ever, not ever, not ever. Never.
With necessary apologies to Demeter and Cletus. You are not antiquated. I was never the new order.