Bad Poetry, Good Therapy

My friend Kristen was anxious for me to see a play with her last weekend, particularly because one of the characters specializes in bad poetry. I say specializes because her bad poetry is deliberate. As in not because she can’t write it any better; she can. She can write good poetry. But there is pleasure and satisfaction in writing bad poetry on purpose. The character writes a bad one in a scene in the play and as Kristen predicted, I related well.

In fact, I embrace many things done deliberately badly when I am fully capable of doing them well. Cursing, for instance. Or cussing, as they say here in the South. I can cuss right but it is more fun to cuss wrong. Note the deliberate use of bad grammar to make that statement. Botching the use of profanity is deliciously satisfying. I’ll give an example. My favorite way to cuss wrong is to exclaim in consternation, “Mother dick!”

Sometimes it’s better not to match. Sometimes it’s better to clash. To be crooked. Or kinked. Or cracked. On purpose. White after Labor Day. Socks with sandals. Bad poetry feels good in same way it feels good to combine weird foods to make a more interesting snack than a logical, predictable mix of flavors. Before I turned vegan I loved tuna on pizza. I adored dunking a peanut butter sandwich into a bowl of chili. You know how childless people like to say If I ever had a kid I’d name her _______? If I ever had one I’d name her Parody.

So Kristen took a selfie of the two of us at dinner the other night before the play. We were hot and tired after cruising an outdoor street fair in the hell heat. We think it’s more fun to take the selfies when we look less than our best, as opposed to later, after we’d cleaned up and changed for the play. My hair was awful. The height difference means my head always competes for space with her cleavage. And then there’s always the conspicuous lack of orthodontia. She was wearing a bright pink dress. I was wearing the beast necklace. She was sad the next day for an unrelated reason so I jacked around with our sweaty selfie to make her laugh. One of my jacks (jackings?) was to put the selfie into my kaleidoscope app. Look at what happened.


You see it too, don’t you?

Here’s our conversation:



She’s not asking for aged cow secretions. Cheese was the name of my first bad poem. She’s asking for a bad poem. And Chuck Butch is a bad poetry stage name we created by combining some of the ghastly nicknames I was given as a child, and also because I am not butch at all so it’s another right wrong thing. If bad poetry open mic night ever becomes a thing, it won’t be lack of a bad stage name that holds us back. (It probably is a thing.)

So gazing in wonder at our kaleidoselfie, this bad poem was born.

The Sum of Our Parts, by Chuck Butch

Our friendship reached a thrilling place

Some people describe in metaphors

Such as

So close we can’t tell where I end and she begins

Which is a clear indicator such people

Have never been to that thrilling place

Because where I end and she begins is a place

Where our lusher parts cannibalize our lesser parts

And leftovers are rendered like the inevitable inedibles

and rejected garnishes left on a dinner plate

This is my underappreciated sprig of parsley

This is her spent lemon wedge

My beastly necklace too tough to chew

Her pink dress oversalted with August sweat

But two massive and powerful vaginas such as these

Will voluntarily split themselves into four smaller

Organs of ominous dominance

Rather than cancel each other out.


Kristen responded with high praise, “First poem I’ve ever approved of with vaginas in it.”

And of course, she wasn’t sad anymore.

— Mercy

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