My poems by Isaac Oliver
I hate my poems.
I used to love them, back when they knew their place.
Poems are like dogs you walk in the park
To attract off duty firemen who love them in turn love you
Not my poems.
My poems used to be shy; they used to stand in front of the
and complain about their bloated syntax and pimpled thematic
But now they leave the house with couplets I don’t remember
and when I ask where they’re going and with whom they’re going
they say, “He’s not your style. He writes think pieces, political
Oh God, not think pieces, not political pieces.
My poems see a guy across a crowded room,
start talking pretty, saying things like, “Your eyes are like moons,”
and before I know it, I’m left standing alone at the punch bowl.
I’ll grab a stanza’s arm and say, “Just let me have this one, please.”
“You snooze; you lose,” it responds, rolling its eyes.
“You think you’re so hot with your semicolons,” I shout after it,
“but I wrote you for a class assignment! You weren’t even
inspired by anything!”
My poems make better theatre dates then me.
They make jokes; they offer multiplayer compliments;
they know someone in the chorus.
My poems spend money without thinking twice.
They hold hands with men on the subway no matter who’s
“How’d you get so fearless?” I ask a particularly savvy poem that
on all lowercase letters and refuses every title but “untitled.”
“I don’t know. Are you jealous?” it replies,
its thumb making circles on the palm of a modern dancer/social
My poems are bitches.
So they’ve been to some festivals; that doesn’t mean they know me.
“You’re much less grateful than my earlier work, when I used to
title poem,” I snap.
“You mean the ones you wrote with Tori Amos playing in the
and without the sense of humor?” “untitled” retorts.
My poems also come knocking in the very early morning,
and I let then sleep on my couch, and cry about cruel men
and betrayal, and Karl Rove,
and I hold them and remember why I wrote them.
I’ve needed to be fearless, to not capitalize words,
to laugh, to spend money, and to leave something untitled.
I’ve needed them to be my spies,
to have their hearts broken and their spirits tattered,
and come back to me for punctuation.
I find this poem beautiful because it portrays the distinction between artist and art so clearly. On one hand, the two are inseparable; on the other hand, however, the product is an object in its own right, which sometimes takes up a life of its own. I recently read a playwright's interview in which he says that once he has written a play he tries to stay out of its life: his work is the text, he doesn't take credit/control of the production. I just find the idea of the relationship between an artist and his art very interesting- and this poem does an awesome job at depicting that relationship.