Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bitter Heart

"In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter - bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."

Stephen Crane wrote that. He can see right through me. He's dead but he knows me better than anyone.

Did you ever read a poem and felt like you just underwent an autopsy? Or think "I wrote that like six years ago in my head while curled in a fetal position on my bathroom floor wondering after the whereabouts of my soul"? Or maybe that's just me.

Poetry has a bad reputation. Novels gossip about her behind her back. Everyone says poetry is easy. She'll spread her legs for anyone. She only inhabits the tattered, black and white composition books of angsty teenage girls with fading cuts about the arms and legs and belly. But that's not entirely true.

The best part of poetry is the part that makes you uncomfortable. Words that are so skillfully whittled they make you squirm like a worm on a hook. A good poem doesn't touch your heart like a gooey love song. It gets on your fucking nerves. It makes you want to eat a whole dark chocolate bar, or maybe just give the world one more chance to get it right.

I stopped writing poetry a long time ago. It felt like a lost cause. It started to be that everything I wrote was inferior to everything I read. It was embarrassing. And I cooled off like ice.

I have a tattoo on my lower back. But before you think that I think that you think I'm cool - I don't. It's a chinese symbol. The chinese character for poetry. I don't regret getting a tattoo. I do regret getting that tattoo. In case you didn't know, I'm not Chinese. I don't know why I did it, but now that it's done I'm going to have to spend a lifetime trying to justify this act either by becoming a communist or memorizing the works of Confucius. I also might have to drive the Dalai Lama out of his hometown. Which makes me sad, because he seems like a really great guy.
I think I'm just going to stick with eating sesame chicken on a regular basis.

Anyway, my tattoo probably doesn't even mean "poetry". It probably means "asshole". The tattoo artist who "did" my tattoo seemed like the type of person who would do that on purpose. But I'm not judging. I'm the type of person who would do that on purpose.Like Stephen said, my heart is bitter, bitter. But I like it. Because it is bitter. And because it is my heart.

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