Monday, October 1, 2012

Starving Artist

Ryan Swofford edits the online magazine The Weekenders.

Salty portrait of a poet, so young
Yet out of breath
Standing beneath the heavenly stars, hanging blue
In the sky, midnight sky
Dreaming, but realizing
That his dreams are dreams unworthy
Of being seen in print
With his goddamn name on the goddamn cover
Of a book of poetry
His words are not pretty enough
No matter how he indents the next line
Or talks about pretty midnight skies
Cares about his little poesy ass

Of poetry and cum and rum, lily-stinking

Rummaging through words and words of truth

Reading Jack Kerouac every evening in his bedroom
Wearing underwear and drinking hot tea from a mug
Pretending to meditate to achieve Zen, but Zen
He figures this out later

Zen is not even a real thing!
Yak-yakking to late-night women with ankle tats
And big tits to comfort his sleepy poet-head

Beneath a field of corn somewhere

In rural desolation, having visions and forgetting who’s who

And what’s what
And is that the moon or is that me?

 Dreams that can be altered by a single word, not affecting someone

The right way, all feel-good, by not giving them goose-bumps on their superficial hairless arms

Of literature and of magazines and of publications publishing only the fuckers

Who’ll make them some money, who know the business inside and out,
Who don’t know the word “obscene” because oh my god, if you say fuck

Fuck fuck fuck

Then you’re out of here, you’re not making any money, you’re not making them money

           Fuck fuck fuck!

You’re going nowhere in this business
I figured this out a long time ago:
While I was writing ten-line poems for non-paying magazines, not concerned
With money for college, with my lifestyle, with Jesus H. Christ (whether or not

I should please him or myself or neither)
While I was blabbering away about how underground I am, how hip, how cool, how ugh
Dumb the whole literary scene was, all those pretentious fuckers wearing $300 suits
With coffee mugs and nice hair and expensive writing machines, participating in

All the poesy events, reading at all the poetry readings, networking, blah-blah, whatever
Now I’m done talking about them
No, I’m not, because I hate them
Mama said if you hate something, burn it to the ground
Mama said knock you out—ha!—and you said my poems weren’t clever, just
Pretty words meaning nothing with no substance, okay, whatever, but
I remember a time when that was all there was:
Pretty words written on a rock somewhere in the Nevada desert
On Christ’s pillow behind his head
Really, when you think about it
Jesus was the biggest hipster ever to breathe

So who are we?

Shining brightly, stapling together paper poetry booklets so our friends won’t be seen as
Nasty obscene psychotic
What have we become?
What has America become?
Now we don’t own our own words
Or cocks in the mouths of whoever we want
Or roach, or rock, or words tripping off the tongue
And onto the desk of the FBI on suspicion of being Muslim
But they’re just American
They’re confusing Buddhist
With Muslim
With Hindu
With Jesus (who?)
But either way, we still own our vocal chords, so:

Ah, but even if I was allowed to say what I wanted to say
It wouldn’t matter anyway
Because a poem’s a poem, the value of this goddamn thing
Is decreasing as we speak
So I’m always gonna be a bum, hey





  1. this piece really struck home with me.... "goose-bumps on their superficial hairless arms " that! Looking forward to checking out The Weekenders.

  2. Thank you, Shawn! Hope you like what you see!

  3. The poem kicked my azz. Ryan helped with the name Pig Pen for this site, it might've been called Grandpa Shit His Pants.