A contemporaneous photo from the era in question


I used to keep folded print outs of poems I had written in my back pocket, so I could accidentally discover them while talking to women at parties. This was before the proper internet and everything was harder then. The idea was bad and the poems were worse, but I was handsome so women slept with me in spite of it. I learned the wrong lesson from this. I was a late bloomer with terrible instincts so I attributed my success to my newly discovered art form[1]. My personality was intense, or rather, I was intense in lieu of having a personality, and my writing reflected this.

A broken thought just trundled by

A twisted thing that once was mine

And now it’s cast adrift within my madness

  I read that to my wife just now and I could see the love fade from her eyes. There wasn’t even a comment, she just left the room and started packing my things. Women in the early 90’s were more forgiving. Insufficiently detered, my pick-up poetry progressed to post-coital. I posted this, without an ounce of irony, on the poetry section of the Carleton University’s message board, after hooking up with my crush

Squired by tenebrity into blinded soft so warm

Taste describing circumstance, touch describing form

  Yes Tenebrity is a real word, it means the state of being dark. Darkness would also have sufficed. “Blinded soft so warm” is  both incomprehensible and embarrassingly specific, but trying to compose an artful allusion to a finger bang/oral sex transition, in rhyming couplet, was never going to end well. “Squired” I blame on the amount of D&D I was playing at the time. When the inevitable break up occurred I processed the loss with the sort of restraint and deft touch you’d expect.

Lancelot lay dreaming, his honour torn apart

His virtue lay unseemly twined about his ragged heart.

  I think the closing verse to this began something like “Avalon lay dying, wrapped in maudlin chains” which I only remember from an argument over whether chains could be maudlin. They cannot. I decided to use it anyways because I’d fully committed to the rhyme “Numbs like laudanum, pain.”. 

Eventually I showed my poetry to someone sober, literate, and unconcerned with my feelings. He flinched visibly while reading, and when he finished I couldn’t tell if was embarrassed for me, or because of me.  “If you’re going to rhyme constantly maybe learn how to count” was the closest he came to constructive feedback.

I took the message to heart, but the dual realization that I was attractive and untalented fueled a few years of cynical narcissism and suspect romantic behavior. Would I have been a better person if I’d been a better poet? Probably not, but I would have ruined fewer parties.

[1] I should state that I didn’t read or like poetry at the time, I just thought that women liked men who were poetic so I tried to develop the talent spontaneously. It was a decade before I bothered trying to write prose, and anyway, it would have taken up too much pocket space to be practical at the time.




 Current AJ: Still a douche