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30 April 2015

National Poetry Month: Failed Poets

By // Books

Editor’s Note: For six years running, contributing author Zach Adler has spent the month of April putting out a poem a day. By turns earnest and wry, these poems are based on prompts (and often forms) chosen at random using a deck of cards. The prompts range from “The Grandfather Paradox” to “Emotional Adultery” to “White Person Dreadlocks”. This year we decided to turn all his entertainment-related National Poetry Month entries into a series of our own. 

Follow the rest of Zach’s daily poems and plumb the archives on his blog

altered paper wadsJack of Diamonds – Failed Poets

He taught poetry
To seventeen year-olds
With sleepy eyes and strong hearts
Open and anticipating
Ready to digest anything
That moved us
But he taught without poetry
With vengeful swagger
He presented us stanzas
With no author no title
And commanded us to show no mercy

Under his orders we
Disemboweled Dickinson
Eviscerated Yeats
As if they were fetal pigs
Whose naked pieces
Became unrecognizable
Laid on cold metal tables
And the parts that functioned well
He would speak of proudly
As if they were his parts
And anything vestigal or undergrown
He would berate and bully
Until what remained fell apart
In our mouths

Then one day
One fateful day
He presented us with three stanzas
With no author no title
With smiling face and steady hands
He snuck his own words
In with those of the masters
Like a man in a woman’s dress
Attempting to escape a sinking ship
Thinking he got away with it
He commanded us to read
And with the tools he had sharpened
We tore him apart

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