Sunday, September 24, 2006

I Love Him Bad, You Guys

So, I was thinking that what this party really needs is a few contests—perhaps contests in which participants are asked to guess the line of poetry that inspired a particular costume. I have no idea what I would offer as prizes, though. I imagine that most of the people who will be participating already own copies of the collected poems. I wonder if any of the published folks out there would be willing to donate books of their own to the cause, to spread the love around? Let me know. Otherwise, the winners will all be receiving bottles of Axe Body Wash—even the ladies. I myself am currently using Stimulating Guarana, in an effort to make women everywhere “shower me with unrelenting attention,” because I am curious to see what that might be like.

In the meantime, I will tell you all about me and Wallace Stevens. (Feel free to send me your own stories, too; they couldn’t possibly be as embarrassing as mine.) I first met Wallace Stevens when I was fifteen years old, under the crap-spackled roof of a poetry anthology I had been given for Christmas. I had already been writing poetry for six years, and had in fact sent a manuscript to a first-book competition earlier in the year—because I was insane, and a chomping, salivating alligator of ego. It might surprise you to learn that I did not win. Nisey Levertov actually died in the middle of the judging period, no doubt as a result of the violent confusion engendered in the mind and body of anyone who tried to read such lines as “Death reaps in the fields,/ and we are the gleaners who follow behind.” Oh, my God, you guys. Dickardo Wilbur was also included in that anthology, as was Paulie Celan. As a matter of fact, it was probably Celan who gave me the idea that what every poem needed was a little bit of Hitler, a belief that eventually resulted in the composition of a remarkable piece of juvenilia called “An Ode to Hitler’s Guardian Angel,” which I will reproduce for your benefit below.

An Ode to Hitler's Guardian Angel

The angel appeared to Hitler
in a dream, to warn him,

to tell him to stop
what he was doing,
that it was madness.

But when Hitler woke,
all he remembered
was the blonde hair,
and the blue eyes,

and he smiled,
secure in the knowledge
that he was doing the right thing.

I am not even kidding—even as I read it now, I must suppress the urge to vomit terrible laughter. Relax, though, I never wrote about Hitler again—until last month, when I embarked on a long, ambitious manuscript called Tiny Mustache, What Were You Thinking? Anyway, the editors had several of Stevens’s poems in their hideous anthology. I think they were “Anecdote of the Jar” and “Peter Quince at the Clavier.” I had never read anything like them, and being one of those people who was always saying things like, “Have you ever really thought about, like, dinosaurs? Fucking whoa, right?” I felt as though I had finally found my spirit animal in the form of an awesome codger. “Just as my fingers on these keys/ Make music, so the self-same sounds/ On my spirit make a music, too”—fucking whoa, right? The jar, like, imposes order on the chaos of nature or whatever! So began my lifelong devotion.

3 comments:

Christine said...

As Juvenelia, it's not so bad. At least you don't mention unicorns and butterflies. Not that I know anyone who did write that way when they were a teenager...

Tricia said...

Well, when I wasn't writing about Hitler I was writing about Jesus, so I'm afraid I spewed my fair share of unicorn metaphors as well. Damn you, Tapestries!

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