No legs

I need a hundred more of you to make a likelihood.
The mirror's not convincing – that at-best in-
ferred person.

As time's revealing gets revolting, I start looking out.
Look in and what you see is one unholy
blurred person.
from Ghazal of the Better-Unbegun by Heather McHugh

CRAP. It’s Brilliant by David Shrigley

The nicest thing somebody ever said to me about a piece of writing was: “It’s got legs.” With these mythical legs the possibilities seemed endless.

Well, I’m now sitting down with some writing for the first time in ages without interruption. Looking at the poems now from a distance, I can’t discern any legs. Maybe the poems are not only legless, but nothing. In disguise. Nothing with a moustache on, maybe some googly eyes.

An old friend’s advice, when I was stuck, was often simply: “Write something else.” It was surprisingly helpful advice. It’s always a relief to cut a fresh path. The problem is, you often end up with a hodgepodge of cobbled-together material because of all the something-elses. Which I guess is where the usual advice comes in: “Finish what you’ve started.” For example, I have a plethora of one-sentence poems. I’m not sure if you can call them poems. They’re more like, pos. Each one should be prefaced with the instruction: “Please wait here until you are useful.”

The Garden of Exile

Two men drinking beer
together in an indentation
in the oleaster hedge

Today I had an idea to take a series of questions that people have asked on Quora – a question-and-answer site – and arrange them as a poem, loosely following the villanelle form. I don’t visit Quora much these days, but when I do, I’m struck by the odd and sad questions that are often asked. I may be wrong, but some of the questions don’t seem to expect an answer. They’re like shouting down a well. “If you’re tired of London, are you tired of life?” “Why do my co-workers talk so much?” “How can I learn to feel loved?” “When will it end?” And that’s kind of what a poem – and a blog – is, sometimes, a shout down a well.

So I spun a rough villanelle out of some questions I found interesting. But then, from out of the something-else, the old fear grew: maybe it’s nothing again, dammit. And maybe all of these something-elses betray a fear of commitment. Also, maybe this brazen pillaging from one source is actually a sign of an imagination that’s gone cold and congealed. Ah well. Everybody gather round.

Pigeon in disguise

Interrogative villanelle

What does it mean if a muscle is tender?
If human beings are meant to survive, why are men shy?
Whatever happened to the London pop group Sister?

If I receive poor service in a restaurant, what is the best way to show my displeasure?
What is it like to hate your own child?
What does it mean if a muscle is tender?

What is it like, when eating a food item, to unexpectedly bite into a finger?
What’s it like to be a compulsive liar?
Whatever happened to the London pop group Sister?

How do I make sure I don’t get dementia?
Is God keeping me infertile so I can’t have a child?
What does it mean when a muscle is tender?

How can I learn to control my temper?
What is the greatest mix-tape of all time?
Whatever happened to the London pop group Sister?

How will our lives be misremembered?
When talking to others, how frequently should a young man smile?
What does it mean when a muscle is tender?
Whatever happened to the London pop group Sister?

This quasi-villanelle grew out of this much more sprawly and unstructured list that for now I’ve called “Mechanical bull”.

Mechanical bull

How can I increase the size of my neck?
What are the keys to Chiplote’s success?
How can I increase the size of my neck?

Why is Homer considered mysterious?
What are the most disgusting dishes?

Why do living things die?
What is it like to hate your own child?
Why do living things die?

How do you come to terms with the fact
that you’re probably just ordinary?
Can one use heroin responsibly?

What is it like to unexpectedly bite into a finger or other human appendage
in a food item?
What are the most romantic words ever spoken?
When will it end?
When will it end?

What creams will help rejuvenate my face?
What are some exercises you can do in public without
making a dick of yourself?

Why do people think their ideas are so valuable?
How would you rewrite Romeo and Juliet with all of the characters
as fundamental particles?

Why do gangsters hold their guns sideways?
Are there ways to avoid “back sweat” while driving?
What are the health risks of eating clothing?

What was your first dance like?
What’s it like to be a compulsive liar?
What’s it like to win a bar fight?

What are some tips for riding a mechanical bull?
How can you become more influential?
What is it specifically about Julia Roberts’ smile that makes it so noteworthy?
Why are Jon Stewart’s impersonations so funny?

What is the most comforting smell in the world?
Where is the worst place to be a child?
Whatever happened to the UNICEF Halloween drive?

Why are we alive? What is the reason that we live?
How can I learn to feel loved?
How can I learn to feel loved?
How do I tell if my office is wiretapped or bugged?

Why would anyone go out with a single mum?
What is it like to hug a penguin?
What’s a good block of instrumental music to play in the background
while writing horror fiction?

If I receive poor service from a waiter or waitress in a restaurant
what is the best way to show my displeasure?
What does it mean if a muscle is tender?
What ever happened to the London pop group Sister?

Just because I’m paranoid, does that mean they aren’t after me?
How much is “a buttload”, precisely?

Does any scientific evidence exist for “meat sweat”?
What is it like to live in a rainforest?
Do women generally prefer men without eyeglasses?

I have would like to hibernate for a few months; how can I do this?
Where can I find the poem with the line “Why did my flower die?”; who wrote it?

Batman by Brent David McKee

About ashleighlou

Person, usually on bike
This entry was posted in Poetry, Struggling. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to No legs

  1. annamarama says:

    Sometimes, quite often, you impress us all, dollface. xA.

    Like

  2. Great idea for a poem! Really enjoyed your interrogative villanelle.

    Like

  3. Thank you, both! I should clarify that I’m not fishing here. Just, y’know, venting.

    Like

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