Monthly Archives: September 2006

The funniest thing I have heard in a while

Earlier tonight we had a family gathering at my aunt’s house. Most of my mom’s brothers and sisters were there, and a few cousins besides the ones who lived in the house. Much to our delight, and much to the chagrin of my cousin, we were privy to the following exchange:

Cousin [to 8-year-old son who was fighting with his brother]: “What did I tell you would happen if you two fight?”
Boy: “You’d pimp slamp us?”
Cousin: “No! I never said that.”

Well, take away the GTA, then. This conversation is also eight bazillion times funnier if you know my mom’s family.

Poetism Commentary: "Can’t Run"

The poem in question: Can’t Run

Written two days after What Lies In Wait, Can’t Run shares a similar theme. In that light, I feel that there is very little that I can say about it by way of exposition.

Well, I take that back. There is something. Where What Lies In Wait treated the people going to their reward, Can’t Run gives a glimpse of them while they still have some hope, ill-founded though it may be:

Their flight from inquity / was set out on right foot, wrong path / And as for freedom, they had none.

These are people who have realized that the path they are on is wrong and will ultimately lead them somewhere they don’t want to end up. They make a decision to turn their lives in another direction, but don’t really think about what direction it is, as long as it’s not the same one they were going before. The problem lies in the fact that they don’t realize that there’s more than one way to hell, and that many of them are, in fact, paved with good intentions.

Now, other than a brief blurb in the Achievement commentary, I haven’t touched much on writing style (though I plan to in quite a few upcoming commentaries). It is interesting to me to see that the three poems from my freshman English class contained no attempt at rhyming, and so What Lies in Wait and Can’t Run contain my first published attempts. Early on I seemed very focused on just making the lines rhyme, without much attention to how the lines broke up, or read aloud. (Not that I think poetry is necessarily meant to be read aloud. Often, that ruins it, because too many people have no freaking clue how to read aloud properly. But I digress.) I think these two poems are somewhat hurt by this approach, though Can’t Run fairs better, as does my hasty “rewrite” of What Lies in Wait a few days ago.

These early poems are fun to look back on because it is fun to see what different writing styles I employed and how they have changed (or stayed the same) over time. At the same time, they are sometimes embarrassing to read, because did I really think/write/whatever like that? It’s sort of like when you become a parent and have to change your first diaper, and you’re reminded that you, too, used to pee your pants on a regular basis.

Or maybe it’s nothing like that at all.

I’m going to be rich

I was eating a chicken sandwich from Wendy’s yesterday and dropped barbecue sauce on my pants. I was instant messaging my friend Ben at the time and mused, “why can’t I eat anything with barbecue sauce without it getting on my pants?” It sounded like the title of a great country song, and Ben pointed out that if that were the case, they couldn’t just be any old pants; they’d have to be Wranglers.

Of course I agreed, and suddenly lyrical inspiration flowed into me as if from another dimension (probably the one where country music is actually good).

Without further ado, my country tune that’s gonna make me the big bucks:

drivin’ down the interstate
my truck’s all I got left
my girlfriend just packed up her things
and took my favorite pet
(poor poor Fido)

I reach down for some chicken wings
and eat them while I cry
something sticky’s on my pants
is it blood from that cock fight?
(poor poor rooster)

I look down and sadly see
a big spot on my favorite jeans
how could my wings do this to me?
I don’t know what this means
(poor poor me)

why I can’t I eat anything with barbecue sauce without it getting on my Wranglers?
not onion rings or fireballed ham or fresh-cooked mashed potaters
grits and alligator meat and Mrs. Radcliff’s cat
they just don’t hold the sauce on like they used to, that’s a fact

I don’t know who Mrs. Radcliff is, but I suspect she’s pretty upset–not that her cat was dipped in barbecue sauce, but that she’s not the one who got to eat it, and also probably that some of the barbecue sauce got wasted on my Wranglers.

Relatedly, country music-wise at least, Sunday was my brother-in-law’s birthday, so we made the drive to his house for the party. Blarin’ away on the CD player was something called “Patriotic Country.” His sister-in-law arrived some time later and saw the CD case, and upon examination, exclaimed, “What a great CD!”

Unable to withhold my viewpoint–which thing also got our beloved sales guy to try and fire me two days ago (which is a lovely story for another time)–I said something really snarky, which I can’t recall right now, dangit. But the point is, the woman’s eyes got really big and she outraged, “How can you say that?!?!!!!?”

I said, “Just like this: [repeat of snarky comment].”

Now if only I could remember what I said, the story would be funny, just like the word “snarky.”

Poetism Commentary: "What Lies In Wait"

The poem in question: What Lies In Wait

There is a great jump in time from Accepting Denial to What Lies In Wait–just over two years. By this time I was in my junior year, had my first (and only) high-school sweetheart, and had an English teacher who both hated my best friend Ben and me, and had not a clue what good poetry was (in this way, she was similar to our sophomore math teacher). More detail on this will be brought to light in the upcoming commentaries for The Poem Within A Poem, Pretense, and A Dream.

What Lies In Wait takes a theme I explored in a few other poems, most similarly Can’t Run: the captive power of the devil. Thinking back, I believe that the aforementioned sweetheart and I had broken up by this point, having only gone out for a couple of months. During and after the time we were dating, however, I had started to desire some changes in my life, and I often thought about this theme (though admittedly not as often as more depressing and morbid ones, depressed-morbid-wannabe that I am).

In What Lies In Wait a group of people are being herded toward their final resting place, having surrendered their freedom and now beginning to understand the full import of said surrender.

The tainted light shining from afar / Was fainter than a noonday star

Satan’s power is tainted, obviously, and quite faint compared to the power of God.

Yet fear tried to hold them at bay / Fear of what must, in wait, lay.

Though Satan has little power in comparison, once one is solely in his power with no recourse, it is quite terrifying.

Driven they were, against their will / Driven they were, by force so great / And that is what made them press on

They did not want to go, once they realized what would await them, but they had no more choice.

And when allowed to raise their eyes / The air was pierced with frightened cries.

This poem ends somewhat abruptly, as “Accepting Denial,” but the difference is that I think it works here. Not knowing what the final revelation is, in this case, useful, because it lets the reader make full use of his imagination.

Now, one problem with this interpretation is that they were herded “Throughout the night, into the dawn” and “By midday next they’d reached the place.” Another being “herded at deadly pace.” If these people go to their final resting place, as it were, do measurements of time really apply? They don’t, really, and I am bothered a little bit by the wording. Also, why is it on a hill? If I were to rewrite the lines at this moment, the new verse would go something like this:

They were driven, against their will,
Toward the source of every ill.
They were driven by force so great
It could crush them with its mighty weight.
And that is what made them press on:
Realizing hope was gone.
All too soon they reached the place
Where they’d been led through time and space,

I hadn’t intended to do such a thorough analysis of this poem, much less rewrite some of the lines, but I’m glad I did. I knew this commentary this was a good idea for someone.

And yes, there’s no air in space, boo hoo.

Bring out yer comments!

For the 3.4 readers of the blog, there is now an extremely limited comment system in place. By “extremely limited,” I mean the following:

  • Looks like crap in IE (surprise!)*
  • No editing system
  • Does not come with fries or onion rings
  • No spiffy CSS yet
  • Ekcetra


*To be fair to IE, it is good for letting you know when your site is standards compliant, i.e. it looks like crap.**

**Please forgive the terrible pun.