This is a poem by me all about the futility of life and getting on with things anyway.
The Unbearable Lightness Of Toasted Bread
How I love toast.
Better than cereal or even a roast.
Brown on one side.
Take you along in my car for a ride.
No marmalade or jam.
I eat my toast because I can.
I wrote this because toast is the great connector. It’s what evens the rich and poor out at breakfast time, and isn’t life the breakfast of the universe? I’m sorry guys, I’m fucking with you. It’s not really about the futility of anything. It’s actually the best piece of bad poetry I could come up with in thirty seconds (being hungry helped), because this post is about poetry. Bad poetry to be precise. We see it everywhere, especially on the web. Whenever anyone has a single thought, no matter how vacuous, they write it down and add a title… And people fawn all over it. “Best poem I’ve ever read.” they gush for the hundredth time. “You’re so talented.” they say “I wish I had half your talent.” before adding a link to their own poems in a blatant attempt to pull some compliments in their own direction. They don’t usually mean what they say and at least half of the people commenting on poems don’t even read them fully. And the kicker is that we all know that these comments are bullshit.
I’ve seen so many bad poems on the web. Some are cliche, others try too hard to show the feeling behind them. And then there’s the “shopping list” poems as they’re commonly known. You know the sort – it looks like the writer just wrote down what they can see in their kitchen or bathroom.
Fridge shines white.
Spider crawls on web.
Window full of condensation.
Seriously, what are these people trying to say that can’t be expressed just as well with their latest shopping list?
Don’t forget bog roll.”
If you’re writing like that, please ignore everything that’s been said in this post because you’re obviously the sort of person who thinks they’re being clever by writing like that, and therefore the sort of person who posts them online looking for compliments. Asshole.
So, why exactly do people write poetry and put it on the web? Do they think that their poetry is better than anyone else’s? Is their way of saying they miss a deceased loved one more artistic than anyone else’s? Do they know a better way of saying they’ve fallen for the janitor than anyone else does? Is it ego and the need to have the compliments, no matter how false? I don’t think so. When most people write poetry it’s the process that matters. Getting your words down on paper instead of letting the feelings fester in your head. And once they’re out you toy with them, not realising that each change you make reflects you feelings growing and changing over time, evolving into something new. Some of us are well equipped for that with an artistic writing style and a way of seeing things that’s different enough to be interesting. Others will unfortunately try to answer all the mysteries of life by talking about grilled bread. It doesn’t matter how you write it or what it ends up like, the feelings behind it are what matter and they, like the poems they inspire, are deeply personal things that no-one except you can truly understand.
So we know why these things get written, even the bad ones, but why publish them? Again we ask the usual questions. Is your poem better than anything else that has ever been written? Were your feelings stronger and your hurt more painful? Or are you looking for those compliments no matter how two-faced they may be? Is that really it, you need compliments to validate your feelings? Of course it isn’t, although it may seem that way to other people sometimes. You publish your poetry for the exact same reason you write it. The feelings need to get out. You’ve written them down or typed them up and now it’s time to reveal them to the universe. The process started within you, your mind spewed these thoughts out through your hands, and the process wont be complete until it’s out there. It doesn’t matter if anyone does read it, you’ve completed the process just by making it public and taking the risk that people wont like it. And that sets you on the road to more feelings and, as a consequence, more poems. So you have to put them up as surely as you have to write them, and you don’t care if anyone reads them or not. You know how false the majority of comments will be and you know that you haven’t managed to express things exactly the way you thought they’d turn out, but you don’t care. For you the process is complete, the feelings have been expressed and that wonderful release has been felt.
So I say continue to write bad poetry, world. Continue to compare the multitude of qualities that make you fall in love to a cloud or flower. Continue to quantify your loss in metaphorical buckets of tears. Continue getting those feelings out there and continue reading the bullshit that others write in return. It doesn’t matter what you write, where you put it or what people think. The process is all that matters and your feelings deserve to go on record somewhere. Go on, have another slice of toast.