After the Old Man’s Song

Every midnight, the droning
of the old man’s tone,
the piano’s moan as fingers pile
upon each key the construction
of soul. His song invades the air,
creaks along the earth, suffering
sounds upon the skin of stars.

Now, the strings sleep,
no longer haunted by what lives
in the press of fading hands,
and night is only itself,
no longer the throat
for a foolish voice.
We can finally find sleep.

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The Self Expands by What the Field Deepens

*after Andrew Wyeth

The world doesn’t bloom
from the eye; rather, it is the world
that makes sight, layering vision
upon vision. There is no self
without the Other: the grass
and the distance of darker things.

We are moved, continuously,
by how the land moves.
Even the smallest flower
drying below the arm of the sun
drives the self to the self.
We are bent toward becoming.

Witness: she lies on the grass,
and the field sinks into her.
She sees the thing, and it sees her.
It moves into her blood,
creating the shift. She becomes
what is seen. And I see her.

The New World

The door opens
and falls from its hinges:

A small branch rubs
against the window’s skin, howls break
from the storm’s throat—
a woman was here. Air twisted around her
face. She touched the walls.

Light swells from the hole
in the ceiling. A face forms
underneath its moon, speeds from vision.

Turning, the hallway moves
without you, pins you to its own
path. As you float, the yellow air clouds
into being. Its hand slides below
the eyes, shuttles below skin,
gas thickens upon the crest
of the tongue. Something resists
resistance, washing you
out from your bones,
making its plow into living.

Windows lifted,
curtains shape and fill
with a yellowed glow.
Your family is here, TV on.
A laughter is played,
and as you finally seek your chair,
the door is heard.

Shane Koyczan, The Disappearing Poet

Shane Koyczan is the bane of my existence. He’s a poet with no talent who gets paid to write garbage and no one seems to bat an eye. Here’s one of his “poems”:

6:59 AM

I’ve been told
that people in the army
do more by 7:00 am
than I do
in an entire day

but if I wake
at 6:59 am
and turn to you
to trace the outline of your lips
with mine
I will have done enough
and killed no one
in the process.

This poem is shit. For one thing, it’s awfully prosaic. Second, it’s manipulative: someone might (mistakenly) call this atrocity a good poem because of the anti-war sentiment, uttered tritely, at the poem’s end. Koyczan could have actually improved the poem had he just snipped the last two lines (though it would have been more beneficial had he scrapped the whole thing.) But the obvious is often lost on terrible writers. Here, have another:

Sketch

If I knew what I know now then
way back when we first met
I’d point to the sunset and say

I drew that for you

see

it’s wrinkling in the rain.

In the words of Mr. Plinkett: “It’s good to show contempt for your audience.” Virtually every line is a cliche, an achievement in of itself. Also impressive is the fact that people gave this guy ninety-thousand dollars to publish his book of poetry, A Bruise on Light (even his titles suck!)

As a bonus, here’s an awful video he released a few months back for his poem, “Troll” which is about cyberbullying. I have to admit, I’ve never been able to sit through the entire video; I challenge you to make it past the forty second mark.

However, it’s not so much the fact that Koyczan is terrible that is bothersome (for there are countless poets like him), but the fact that he is quite successful while other, much better poets, dwell and die in obscurity. There are several reasons for his being successful: 1.) his poetry is “inspiring” because it deals with issues like bullying in a “positive” (read: obvious) way 2.) his poetry is relatable and easily understood 3.) his poetry is also easy to replicate; literally anyone can write like Koyczan; this fact makes the reader feel better about being mediocre himself (this also explains the success of poets like Bukowski) 4.) Koyczan has a decent voice and stage presence 5.) he has a pretty intense neckbeard.

Despite all this, I’m an optimist. Poets like Koyczan come and go while truly great poets, even if they aren’t appreciated in their time, always remain for they are not easily replaced. The only reason people still know of terrible poets like Bukowski is because of the images that surround them and what those images represent. But celebrity fades and Koyczan’s certainly will; other Koyczans will come and fill his gap and do so well enough to satisfy the public.

White on White, Defined

A nothingness wrapped
in mediocrity owns this
wall, owns your gaze.
Mere sheets and hints
of printed words pinned
to immensity, slathered
in greater glumps of white,
but the description makes it
less as you learn the painting
somehow represents
the communities fractured
by Eisenhower’s highways.
You look at it, then back
at the description. You step
away and travel to the video-
foot exhibit—a boot decimates
pumpkin pie on a screen,
and all you can do is thank God
that there isn’t a description
for this as well.

The singer’s crowd

dwindled to a face unlooking
at him, but at the specter that only is
the crowd’s. The singer is gone.

The singer was theirs. Now he’s fallen
into fragments. The crowd is bound
to itself, becomes a single mind.

This mind listens, waits, but the old
man is not the singer. And the past
doesn’t dance into substance.

But the singer sings the unknown
song, unslipping into the mind that is only
felt by the echoes it makes.