This Poem’s Gonna Be a Hit!

By Evan Waite and River Clegg

This poem, baby, this poem. Where do I start? Thanks for coming in, by the way. Have a seat. You want a water? Brendan, bring two waters in here! Brendan’s new. Great kid. Dad’s a major player in the haiku game. Anyway, this poem—it’s gonna be huge. I’m talking Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening on Your Way to the Fucking Bank” huge.

Look at your opening line:

Gray wolves on the gray mountains, I am alone.

Mind. Blown. First off, the wolves! What even are wolves? They’re like dogs but dangerous. Not that dogs can’t be dangerous. Mine is. But they’re not wolf dangerous, you know? Wolves are Brothers Grimm territory. A wolf came for the three little pigs. A wolf ate Red Riding Hood’s grandma, then pretended to be her grandma. Put on her shawl and everything. That is fucked up.

But this poem—my God. It just keeps getting better:

The naked path that led you here has turned to dust. Dust, dust.

God damn, that’s hot. After two lines, your poem has driven me to the precipice of sexual climax. “The naked path.” Right off the bat, “naked” is a sexy word—it makes you think of silk sheets and candlelit boning. But “naked path”? Paths aren’t normally thought of as naked, so you’re doing that great poem thing where an object gets described like it’s a different object. Maya Angelou did that shit all the time, and, poetry-wise, she knew what was up. You don’t get a Presidential Medal of Freedom without going straight-up beast mode with the pen.

Which reminds me, your next line is—hey, Brendan! Where are those waters? Yeah, two. Now. Brendan, he’s new. Did I mention that? Good kid, but he’s a fucking idiot. Wouldn’t know a sonnet from a limerick. Anyway, your next line—wow.

The empty house of green has turned to dust.

This town’s full of rinky-dink couplet jockeys who would’ve said “green house.” But not you. You say, “house of green.” That’s epic, Homer epic. This poem is like the Iliad knocked up the Odyssey and they had a kid that wasn’t about war but was still a great poem.

Now, your next line is where this conversation gets difficult:

An owl coos, branched, in the night. We are alone.

It feels like you’re trying too hard. The owl is sitting on the branch. Do we need a whole new word—“branched”—to describe that? I mean, at this point, we’re not far off from doing that hacky apostrophe thing and just writing “branch’d.” In which case, you might as well just go all the way and join up with a Renaissance Faire.

Hey, don’t get mad at a little tough love! Look at E. E. Cummings. That loony bastard made up plenty of nonsense. But he knew why he was doing it. Not that you don’t. No, no, don’t leave. This poem’s going to be great! I mean, it is great! I’m just giving you stuff to think about. Like, uh, a muse. Yeah.

Thanks, Brendan. Only ten minutes late with the waters. Now get back to your desk. I’m expecting a call from Lewis.

You know Wilhelm Lewis? Gets some four-stanza clunker about a lighthouse in The Atlantic and suddenly he thinks he’s Walt Whitman. Never pounded out so much as one measly cinquain for the purists. But who knows? Sometimes those free-verse fuckers can surprise you.

Now, you. You’ve got what it takes. This poem’s gonna be everywhere—anthologies, textbooks, those funky posters they put up in subways so that commuters won’t feel so sad all the time.

Just look at this final stanza:

Flesh pressed in the night, we are two, we are non-two.
The wolves are near, they are not near.
Alone the dust, alone the house.
There was a phone number I used to know.

They’re gonna put your face on a fucking stamp after you die.

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