How to write bad poetry like a nobody

How to write bad poetry like a nobody

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

Andres Segovia, Asturias for Spanish Guitar

The poet blogger, Anthony Wilson of the Lifesaving Poems blog, writes today about his encounter with Michael Symmons Roberts’ poem, Ultramarine. His blog post is here:

Michael Symmons Roberts’ ‘Ultramarine

Anthony’s post reminds me of my first encounter with the same poem years ago. Roberts’ Ultramarine provoked questions about life and death, self-reflection (not to be confused with navel gazing), and [gulp] a necessity to write – to write (bad) poetry.

If a poem does that to you (like what Roberts’ Ultramarine did to me) – it’s good poetry.

When I say I do bad poetry, I say this not out of false modesty in anticipation of future praise. But I do say so with the lingering shame of those many, many letters of rejection taped to the bedroom wall of my younger Patsak self.

Nonetheless, I share my prose with you (below) – that you can get a feel for how not to write poetry. Also – I share this to share my self with you. Perhaps, Johnny too will discover it someday.

“Nobody” is everyone, a person without accomplishment, and also a reference to the Odyssey when the cyclops, Polyphemus, asks Odysseus for  his name. – in case you wondered about the alternate title.


Cerulean Blue

or A Self-Portrait of a Nobody

I knew him well, better than you. Knew him
like a warm wool scarf wrapt around the face
on a cold January morning stroll
along Spuistraat, passing Magna Plaza.

I knew the hidden smile sweeping the street
with tassels of saffron, burnt umber, thyme,
gold, sandalwood, dark plum and a little gray –
the man wasn’t as tall as Tom Baker.

And the scarf had stretched beyond twelve feet.
Knew him like the dull pain – its claws gripping
his ankles and its teeth burying into his calves
as he left the Willis on South Wacker –
an exhausting, inescapable friend
that persecutes, tries and tests your patience.
There were times he couldn’t take one more step
down a fragrant spring path in Cismigiu
and he would linger with a cigarette –
as if he meant to. And maybe he did.
I knew him like a Solomon searching
for a perfect blue – cerulean, in fact.
Ultramarine may be a misadventure
like forbidden, swollen areolas,
like a shuddering gasp of completion.
With someone that does not belong to you.
Does anyone?! Ever belong to you?
Cerulean is ubiquitous – not cheap
like kitsch (to be displayed) in a Florentine curio –
not even a cabinet adorned with angels
or six winged seraphim gilt in gold.
But he had tried anyway. Wouldn’t you?
Cerulean is effervescent, sweet, fleet
like light glinting on an artichoke’s crown
in the afternoon gardens of Monticello
or the first, unsteady flight of a robin.
That’s how I knew him. A cerulean blue.
Like the old dog that still chases his tail –
going round and round in twirling, whirling,
unabashed circles like a dervish
in prayer; like a twister on the sea,
moving over the face of time and space,
blinking like the light of a distant star
that prevails against the darkest of nights
and is gone when you take a second look.
Like a nobody.
That’s how I knew him. Did you know him too?

Stan Faryna
28 April 2013
Fairfax, Virginia

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6 Responses to How to write bad poetry like a nobody

  1. Betsy Cross says:

    No such thing as bad poetry if it speaks for your heart.
    Good job.

  2. Uh, roses and red violets are blue….

    I’m impressed.

Speak from your heart!

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