In high school, my English teacher,
having apparently surrendered any vestige of what once may have been
genuine pedagogical instincts,
had us write down the lyrics to our favorite song.
Ostensibly, this was an effort
(a somewhat lazy and intellecually dishonest one,
if you ask me),
to introduce us to the concept of "poetry."
The girl sitting next to me
effusively wrote down every inane word of Silent Running, by Mike + The Mechanics,
a song that to me, even at the impressionable age of 15,
seemed vapid.
Which caused me to ask myself:
Is this poetry or crap?

I've read sonnets,
And I've read odes,
And I've read loads,
Of poetry nodes.

I've looked for meter
And searched for rhyme
And nearly every time
I think to myself: Is this poetry or crap?

So many "poets"
reject the repressive patriarchal fascist hegemony of Eurocentric A-B-A-B structures,
opting, instead, for a free-flowing "style,"
characterized primarily by
line breaks
apparent reason,
as if the pauses, in and of themselves, convey a meaning,
instead of the words doing most of the heavy lifting.

Don't get me wrong:
Mike + The Mechanics rhyme
and they still suck.
Rhyme and meter are no substitute
for having something worthwhile to say.
And if you don't really have anything to say
(or, more likely, have something to say
but you're not really sure what it is yet)
chopping it up into little nuggets
doesn't make it any more palatable.

It seems to me
free verse poetry
is primarily
a place for thee
with an itchy finger on the "Enter" key.

Oh, and the guy who said repetition of common words and phrases makes excellent postmodern poetry
was onto something too.
(Assuming it was satirical)
(And these days, who can tell anymore?)
Why not just an
string of non-sequiturs?
Like: Gumdrop licking nightmare happy balloon watershed?
That creates "imagery," too, you know.
Sure, it may not mean the same thing to you
the reader,
that it does to me,
the author,
But this is the age of deconstructionism
and meaning is relative anyway.

So just because these words don't mean a goddamned thing to me
doesn't mean I should deprive
of them,
on the off chance that they'll trigger an epiphany
in you.
Or is it, as I suspect, just the opposite?

I'm sure it is a heresy
to impugn one's creativity,
to cavalierly rip apart
words poured from someone else's heart.
For who am I to criticize--
simply because I have eyes
that read the words upon the page
but fail to feel the poet's rage?
Or worse, to generalize as such
all works with a poetic touch
as merely self-indulgent pap
by asking "Is this poetry or crap?"

I stand prepared to face the stones
of those with verses in their bones
and to incur the wrath of those
who think the Emperor's wearing clothes.
You budding poets should feel free
to castigate and punish me,
but let my taunts to you inspire
responses of some quantum higher
than formless wads of half-baked screeds
sprinkled freely with line feeds.

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