Say there. Say. You. Yeah you, the one raising his pussy drink to his pussy lips lined with that curly pussy beard. Yeah that’s right, I just totally inverted your supposed symbols of testosterone-fueled manliness and called you out for the cuntface you are. How’d I do it? I’m a poet. Next question. Why’d I do it? Because I’m the fucking poet laureate.
Oh, you didn’t know there was such a thing. Oh, you didn’t know poets were such assholes. Well, how do you think an old bag like me gets to be poet laureate, anyway? Not by smelling the pretty roses and sharing constructive criticism, I’ll tell you that. You think Robert Lowell’s some nice guy? Think Louise Glück wants to chitchat about her garden? Ha. You know, I’ve still got claw marks on my neck from taking down Natasha Tretheway. Vicious as a betrayed snakewife. And between you and me, I only kept going because I was too drunk for pain. Yeah, I fought to get where I am.
Was I appointed by who? The president? Look, Obama might not know a sestina from a Senate resolution, but he knows better than to fuck with the poets. Ever since the big Stonybrook Brawl of ‘68, we settle things amongst our own. Last time a president tried to get involved, things got nasty quicker than a hornet on crack. Ask Clinton. Let’s just say it’s no coincidence that Pinsky rhymes with Lewinsky.
What does a poet laureate do? Bring poetry to all the candyass bitches and douchebag denizens of dives like this. No, not the schools. The kids got their Mother Goose, their Dr. Seuss, their Shel Silverstein. They got poetry all over the place. Not the college campuses—those little shits get enough poetry humping away to rap music. No, it’s assholes like you, jerks in their thirties and forties all cranked up on cholesterol, football and alcohol, wrapped up in jobs and mortgages and 401Ks—and still squeezing those last drops of piss out of the classic rock station like it were God’s own wine. One day Old Man Mortality shows up in the mirror and buddy, you’re fucked. And that’s when you need poetry.
But you’re one lucky son of a–what’s your name? Ethan? Really? Well, whatever, Ethan. We’ll start you off slow. Bukowski, maybe. Build up some callouses inside that pathetic clamshell you call a chest. Some Plath, start building a frame around that whole death thing. That’s just the basic set up, the gateway. Once you get the taste, build up your tolerance, we can start experimenting: see if you can take a punch from Phil Levine or a crack from Mary Karr. Hell, kid, see if you can tangle with Geoff Hill or throw down with Mallarmé. Don’t worry, Ethan. You got this gnarly old star to guide you. Now, buy the fucking poet laureate a drink, and let’s get started.
Ardith Swope lives, loves, drinks, and writes from her uptight sister's attic in Minneapolis. She is currently making her world début as a humor writer.