Poetry Lab: Week Four

Poetry Lab week four

 

          This is our fourth Poetry Lab and the first time we focus on a single poem instead of the usual two. “Cordially Yours, Regards” from Pearl Dandy is a lengthier poem than most I have written and, honestly, is more of a rant than a proper poem. It’s title (and final line) comes from the Marx Brothers film, “Animal Crackers,” in which Groucho’s character famously dictates a letter to his secretary, Jamison (Zeppo Marx.) I think the rant-like quality of the piece brought that to mind and couldn’t help paying tribute to it in the end.

 

Cordially Yours, Regards

You cretinous mutton-headed sack

of worthless opinions given to you

by other pointless sacks full

of gelatinous philosophies

and fast food science,

 

          I’ve grown weary of talking points regurgitated by one side or the other. Most days, it feels like no one adds any genuine thought to the matters that separate us. Our “gelatinous philosophies” are often spineless attempts at one-upmanship—a wobbly pseudo-solid basis for thinking we know more, or that our thinking or way of living is more advanced. “Fast food science” is a reference to the many online arguments I’ve read in which one or both opponents appeal not to science, but to what little bit of science they managed to misinterpret while reading scientists who actually did the work and still don’t claim to have definitive answers.

 

You have vomited up your last

fetid pile of refried excrement

you’ve tried to disguise as

“live and let live” on

today’s menu

 

          First, gross. Second, it’s usually the “live and let live” sort that actually mean “live and let live so long as I agree with you philosophically or voted with you down the same party line.

 

because only an inept and moronic

lima bean of a man like you

could ever think we’d miss the fine print

near the bottom, reading:

 

“and, of course, that is conditional upon

your acceptance of what we deem to be life

for who we deemed worthy of it…

and upon your willingness to sacrifice

any thoughts of your own upon the altar

of OUR open-mindedness.

 

          I’m probably overly fond of “lima bean of a man” as an insult. Not quite sure where that came from. And back to “live and let live” except when I say life begins here and you say life begins there, etc. I believe it was Buffy Summers that made the correlation between extreme open-mindedness and brains falling out.

 

Well, score one for the visiting team, Slappy,

because some of us can smell what you’re stepping in

and he who squooshed it, pushed it.

 

          I often call my kids “Slappy” for no real reason. It’s just an easy placeholder for a name you can’t recall in the heat of a moment. (Sorry, kids…whoever you are!) And, of course, a cruder version of the old “he who smelt it dealt it,” of childhood.

 

I’ve read all your hackneyed suggestions.

I’ve taken your “advice” on the chin.

I’ve been crucified on the cross of your derision

and mocked for not towing the party line.

 

          Speaks for itself, I believe.

 

I’m not impressed by your lack of patience,

and your sarcasm proves you lack real wit.

You’re just a bully and a coward and a dullard.

You gather allies and share that one faulty brain.

You label people: racist, misogynist, homophobe,

republitard, demoncrat, tea bagger, left-wing blowhard,

right-wing nut job, religious freak, godless jerk…

 

          Sarcasm is a switchblade. We tend to not pull it out until we’re defensive and looking to wound. My own sarcasm can be one of my least attractive qualities. If the internet is good for just one thing, it is good for over-inflating one’s self-worth and sense of importance. We hide behind screen names and avatars and attack anyone doesn’t think like “us” and befriend anyone who, likewise, stands against “them” with all the same rhetoric and talking points we’ve come to love so much. We slap labels on our enemies so that they seem less human and so that we can justify being dismissive toward “them.”

 

It’s old. It’s dumb. It’s a giant, tragic waste.

And I’m done.

 

                   Yep.

 

So shove your caustic little screen names.

Shove your high school debate club

and your Intro to Psych dime store yammering.

Shove your kindergarten playground nonsense.

Wedge it right on in there tightly with your head.

 

          Really—it’s just not a good place for your head to reside.

 

Cordially Yours,

Regards.

 

P.S. You may go now, Jamison. I may go, too.

 

          So there you have it. One ranty-rant explained. Next week, we’ll look at two more. Until then, write more. Write now.

 

J. Patrick Lemarr

 

 

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