The Bad Poet

The bad poet mangles words and scorches meanings,
bludgeoning beauty until it resembles a bloated
corpse left in the desert sun for an entire season.

The bad poet ruins ideas, polluting them with bias as
thick as an atmosphere of hatred and as baseless
as claims air is unhealthy unless it can be seen.

The bad poet forces syllables into unhealthy relationships
with Roman numerals and mathematical formulas,
recording the sordid fornication on magnetic media.

The bad poet tears words into deformed letters—bent
and broken and devoid of meaning—and reforms those
fragments into lies and broken promises.

The bad poet treats language like an object of derision,
mocking its inconsistencies and berating phrases as if
they deserved vowel resection without amnesia.

The bad poet crosses the threshold between language
and life, spreading disease and distemper with every
step, and infecting the mundane with the monstrous.

The bad poet breaks guitar strings and plays the
violin with a rusted bow fashioned from a cross-cut saw
dipped in tree sap and smeared with thick tar.

The bad poet gives haircuts with pinking shears and
shaves with Mussolini-era safety razors stored in
in a jar filled with equal parts of urine and salt water.

The bad poet howls with laughter at funerals and weddings,
toasting the main attraction with absinthe and coca-cola while
hawking nude photos of the Pope in compromising positions.

The bad poet grins at the sentencing judge and threatens
her with language that would cause starving artists to
welcome anorexia and creative amnesia into their lives.

The bad poet cloaks herself in a juror’s robes and
sentences his audience to immortality, locked in an
echo chamber where only the poet speaks.

The bad poet tears beauty from the sky and
tramples it under muddy feet in sodden graveyards
filled with beautiful ideas made profane in his presence.

How do we deal with the bad poet, this broken piece
of the universe whose words shatter our souls
and bring tears of pain and rage to our eyes?

How do we cope with his pervasive distrust of everything
human and her broken heart and their cries for mercy,
hidden beneath layers of aggression and fear?

The bad poet is only as bad as the darkest night of
the darkest soul, but he is as ubiquitous as the view
in every reflection in every mirror.

The only cure for the bad poet is compassion and
understanding—an open mind and an open heart—
and patience as deep as the deepest black sky.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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