Monday, December 22, 2008

Is There A Back Up Poet? Just In Case?

Meanwhile, as a select group of people continue to freak out over the selection of Pastor Rick Warren to do something at the Presidential Inauguration (all I can figure out is that he's going to speak. I don't know why, I don't know what about. He'll be there and there will be words coming out of his mouth. That's all I've got for you.), there is a simply grand story that seems to be getting lost in all of the made up fervor over Pastor Warren. And what's the one thing that would make for even better pre-inaugural scrutinizing fodder than a "controversial" pastor? That's right, the Inaugural Poet! What? Wait. There's an inaugural poet?

There is NOW! Meet one Elizabeth Alexander, a friend of Barry's and his choice to write and recite a poem at the inauguration. Now, just because you're about to be sworn in as President of the United States, that doesn't mean that you have to have a poet. You can go poetless. After all, there have only been three other poets prior to Ms. Alexander and the first one was Robert Frost who was selected by JFK, so it's not like some age-old practice steeped in tradition. The only other President who felt the need for things to rhyme on a cold January afternoon was Bill Clinton and he felt the need to do so twice. (It must have felt pretty good the first time in order for Bill to want to do it again.)

Now, if I were being inaugurated as President of the United States (Hey! Stop laughing over there!) and I had to pick an Inaugural Poet, I'd go with Dr. Seuss. Yeah, I know he's dead, but I'd have one of his relatives fill in or something. It would be awesome! You can say anything in a Dr. Seuss-like fashion and it will sound cheery and good! You could stand up there and announce impending doom and it would just sound cheery!

I must confess!

This country's a mess!

And by the end of the year

You'll have a lot less!

See? See how I did that? AND you liked it even though the message it sends is "We suck." But do you see how you just didn't care when it was presented in that manner? It's all about delivery. Well, that and location, location, location.

But back to the poet. If you're going to be all rhyme-y, but not in a Seuss-esque manner, you really have to try and make it so that people want to hear your poem. That's why there isn't such a big call for poets these days. They leave out the Seuss and they leave out the stuff-that-people-like factor as well. And then what do you have? Open-mike poetry night once a month at the local pub, that is correct. I mention these things because I've run across and read some of Ms. Alexander's work. It is, in a word, breathtaking. It is also, in a word, long. Really long. So I'll just give you a sample. You can find the entire poem and others (oh, there are others, all right!) on Elizabeth Alexander's website. But, in the meantime, behold!

funky, is
leaky, is
a soggy, bloody crotch, is
sharp jets of breast milk shot straight across the room,
is gaudy, mustard-colored poop, is
postpartum tears that soak the baby’s lovely head."

Oh, what the hell is that?! Um, does that say "mustard-colored poop"? (Gives a whole new meaning to "Grey Poupon" now, doesn't it?)And did she also mention a "soggy, bloody crotch"? (Enjoying this yet, guys?!) Yes, I believe she mentioned both of those, um, things. And just so you know, in case you can't bring yourself to read the entire thing, she also mentions, in the same poem, "poop" "apricot juice" "pregnant" "sensible shoes", a "mammoth giblet", "Tupperware", a "bloody mesa", "cast-off meat", "breast", "placenta", a "Senegalese head wrap", "OB-Gyn", "a loaf of whole wheat bread", "electric breast pumps", "each exhausted tit", "human cargo", and of course, the ones you were waiting for, "Karl Malden" and "The Streets of San Francisco". Um, WTF?!

I'll be the first to admit, I don't understand a whole lot of poetry. I mean, I get it, I just don't understand why it's supposed to be so great. What? Because it has short and choppy little sentences? (That would be Reason Number ONE why I could never become a poet.) I don't know, I just don't get it. But before now, the poetry that I didn't get was fairly normal. This poetry that I don't get, seems a bit....what's the word?.....oh, whack-a-doo.

Seriously. A placenta? Karl Malden? Well, I tried to give this woman the benefit of the doubt and thought that maybe she was just having an overly creative (I use that term loosely) day when she came up with that, um, piece of work. So I read some other poems. She has one called "The Venus Hottentot". I really like the word "hottentot" and not just because it reminds me of something else that I love, tater tots. But when I read this poem, it was nothing like the hottentots I like to think of. No, it was a little more....what's the word?......oh, whack-a-doo. Behold! Hottentot-ism!

"Her genitalia
will float inside a labeled

pickling jar in the Musee
de l’Homme on a shelf

above Broca’s brain
"The Venus Hottentot.”

Elegant facts await me
Small things in this world are mine

WHY is no one talking about THIS?!?! Are you kidding me?! Wait, don't get me wrong. I don't have a problem with this woman being the Inaugural Poet. (If I have a problem with anything, it's that she gets $20,000 to do this. That seems excessive, especially whatever she cranks out is anything like the Hottentot Homage here.) I'm just perplexed as to why this hasn't been jumped all over yet! Are all of the media outlets who have been in the tank for Barry since Day One afraid that it will damage his Messiah-like image that his veal calf-esque followers believe him to have? I really can't speculate too much because my jaw is still trying to pick itself up off of the floor. But every other person who is intentionally or inadvertently thrust into the media spotlight, especially if the person has anything at all to do with the campaign or politics in general (ie, Joe the Freaking Plumber, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the yet-to-be-acquired Presidential Pet, etc.), they are soon watching their entire life flash before them...usually on the 10 o'clock news.

Back to the Hottentot for a moment. (There's a sentence I never thought I'd say, kind of always hoped that I would, and really didn't want to in this context.) Again, I repeat, I don't get a lot of this poetry stuff, so there could be a reasonable interpretation from this excerpt I'm about to share, but I don't know what it is. Maybe you do. Behold! Hottentot, Part Deux!

"Monsieur Cuvier investigates
between my legs, poking, prodding
sure of his hypothesis.
I half expect him to pull silk
scarves from inside me, paper poppies,
then a rabbit! He complains
at my scent and does not think
I comprehend"

Well, OK then. WHY HAVEN'T I HEARD ABOUT THIS BEFORE NOW?!!? Good Lord, we're all doomed.....

Look, I'm all for new things. Change is good (from what I hear). But I don't know if I'm ready for the sort of change that has things like "between the legs investigations" mentioned in the Inauguration Ceremony by the Inaugural Poet. I just don't think I'm that evolved. Actually, I don't know if I will ever be that evolved. I don't want to forever more associate Barry with "placenta". It would be wrong. Not to mention disturbing. On many levels.

But I do trust Barry. I think he has pretty sound judgment. So if the bloody placenta woman is good enough for him, well, :::gulp:::: then I guess the bloody placenta woman is good enough for me too. (Who said that?! WTF?!)

So be sure to tune in to the inauguration ceremony on January 20, 2009! And listen in for any of the oh-so-NOT-poetic words discussed here today. (You know, "placenta", "Tupperware" and the like.) By the way, to give you an idea of what sort of poetry would have been perfectly acceptable to me to have read at the Presidential Inauguration, I present to you the best poem ever by a cartoonist impersonating a penguin impersonating a poet.

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