Thursday, May 24, 2012

Of a Kind

She fancied herself a shitty poet, for she had come to believe that those were the most earnest. The talented poets, those who gazed upon the world and saw Truth, could transcribe their vision in a manner with which only other poets could comprehend. Poets of her breed, however, those who gazed upon the world and saw the world, wrote with an identifiable ease. They brought no new light, opened no eyes, moved no hearts, challenged no minds, but what they lacked in poignancy, they made up for in accessibility--in that notion they found transcendence. Like the talented, their audience was broad, though far less analytical and far more modern. They were of an age, a brief moment in time, a whisper into the very ears of God, vanished into the vast plane of history. No one would fight to keep their works in print, nor would anyone attempt to retrieve any lost publications of these truly awful few. When they work ended, so concluded their legacy. They were of a generation, that generation's chief voice as far as sales were concerned, and she was chief among them."Miss Emily Meyers," read everyone of her book jackets, "Shit Poet," and she delighted in the title.

This morning, she did not know delight, however. She knew frustration instead. It crept through her like a rat through the walls. The mini-van reeked of puberty sweat, her twin boys hitting each other in the back seats, her daughter pouting in the front. So much shitty poetry pouring through her and no pen to record it with, no surface to record it on. Did her kids not understand her status--queen of the shit poets, goddess of shitty poetry?

There is, of course, a distinction between the shitty poets and the shittiest poets. Shitty poets were those with mass appeal; whereas the shittiest poets were just shitty poets. The shittiest poets wrote in isolation, dreaming to ascend the ranks, believing that they would one day achieve the status of Yeats or Eliot or Dickinson or what have you, unaware of the majesty that accompanies the shitty poets once their shitty poetry saw sunlight. The only qualm Emily had, and it was a minor one at that, was with the word "shit," but she did not coin that particular part of the phrase anyway. Her brother, not one to censor himself and unfamiliar with concept of tact, provided the inspiration.

"What a shitty poem!" he declared upon finishing what she considered to be her magnum opus, and the words struck her. Shit. shit shit shit shit How vile, how unpoetic. She loved it ... sort of ... she hated it too. Rather, she understood it, realized its function in art, its appeal. This was the role she was born for. Rarely does one get the privilege to look into the mirror and lay eyes upon their purpose, knowing without any semblance of doubt why The Stork delivered your fetus to your mother's womb, but she, Miss Emily Meyers, saw exactly that on a piece of paper, informing her of her first publication. She was a shit poet.

That was her mantra, repeated whenever she sat down to write, and she could not stop writing. Her brain leaked shitty ideas for shitty poems everywhere she went. She wrote about love--all the best shitty poets wrote about love--and she wrote every night. Once she finished a collection, she started another. It was her livelihood, how she fed her kids, paid the rent, kept her dog supplied in the higher-scale brand of dog food for which he had developed an exclusive taste.

Her hand never ached. She did not comprehend "writers block." There were so many things to say, none of them vital, but all of them were said regardless.

That night, she found herself caught by a fever. She never felt this way. When she wrote, she wrote calmly, the words flowing out of her with the ease and steadiness of a running faucet, but tonight, the words pressed against her, forcing their way out. Tremors shot up and down her spine. She was a nine on the Richter scale, a code red threat level, ready to blow at any second. The lights were dim in her room--the pitter patter of little feet on the floor downstairs provided the soundtrack. Every now and then, she would hear an "ouch," and she would mutter a brief prayer that her sons had not killed each other in whatever ill-conceived game they immersed themselves in and that her daughter would not play the role of collateral damage. She would tend to them if she could, but her work had consumed her, had seized her brain, had made her a prisoner to some unknown warden. It occurred to her that she was excreting poetry. She, the shittiest of the shitty poets, for the first time in her career, was excreting her first shitty poem. The others, as shitty as they were, did not come with such toil. They came not from the ass but from the mind, with complete comprehension of their creation. She could not even read the words of this current monstrosity, did not believe she would understand them if she could. This was a chemical reaction, an explosion of thought, volatile. She feared she would never write again, would be incapable, rendered useless by one malicious shitty poem shitted maliciously.

Oh God oh no it can't be She sat back, the words no longer pushing through her. A restoration of clarity overwhelmed her, forced her backwards through time and space. She read it then read it again then read it a third time. no no no She e-mailed her to her brother, waited anxiously at the computer, her daughter crying downstairs while the boys sprinted to their hiding places. no no no 

When his response arrived, her worst fears were realized. Miss Emily Meyers, shitty poet extraordinaire, had written a good, nay, a great poem. All hope was lost. 

No comments:

Post a Comment