My Thank You Speech for Poetry Class.
BY Dan Kennedy
First of all, I just want to say thank you to everyone (except Jan, Rich, Barbara, and the woman in the third row) for your support; this has been a real learning experience. Most of you agreed, or implied, or whatever stupid word you want to use, that I was not super good at poetry. Fair enough, hombres, I have a high school education, and you’re all probably better at it than I am.
Now that class is over, I’ll get back to sitting around nights until the sun comes up, wrapped in all my little slow suicides, eating candy, recalling the burn of years passing fast, naming in my head loves whose impressions are slow to leave me, like deep bruises that mark me as I sit alone with the hollow loneliness of boredom and disease; I’m like a snare baited with my own failed heart. My free time is a trap that sucks every desperado ghost to me late at night in New York, or in any flyover state of graves they stick me in on a Wednesday layover full of the kind of delays that make you dare yourself to daydream of the plane finally crashing.
Not to be a dick, but the stuff I just said is as good as any poem you guys did in class, and still, you never had it in yourselves to tell me I was maybe getting the hang of this. Again: fair enough—I still thank you all (except Jan, Rich, Barbara, and the woman in the third row there) for being punctual, quiet, and civil.
I’d like to address the woman I refer to in my head as Suddenly A Poet Just Because She Had Kids, she’s sitting in the third row, and I’m looking right at her right now. To you, I’d just like to say: I know you’ve got me filed away as just another rainy day mortal fuck fading off in middle age until I sag in a fire or grave, and again, that’s just fine. You’re a great person, I’m sure, but to be frank, you seem to think our prerequisite here is to be heavy with dread, and when you’re near, I can almost feel your disdain for me like a weight around my neck, your eyes hang on me like the wrong suit on a day hot with defeat and regret. Again, listen to what I’m saying right now you guys, because seriously, I’m pretty sure it’s basically poetry. I’ve said this before, and I have to insist on it now on our last night together: when I get kind of hurt, pissed off, and tired of being quiet or polite to angry people, I say some pretty intense shit, and as far as I can tell that’s what we were expected to do in this class.
Okay, let’s see, what else? Barbara, you workshopped my stuff until I wanted to shove you into a car, set it aflame, then put the thing in neutral and let it roll into a goddamned canyon; you really killed my jams. I tried to be nice, but the idea seemed to be that you were reaching out to me to tell me what you thought I was doing wrong, and to be blunt, you’re pedantic and condescending, and I think you knew exactly what you were doing to my spirit all along.
Rich: suck it, period. Your mediocre appetite for living is harmless at best, at worst you’re like a disease that runs roughshod through my veins with the lemony sting of infection; your benign use of language and need for broad appeal feel like septicemia sinking biological barbs into the heart’s valves and veins, and the stuff I’m saying right now, again, is, in my conservative estimate, more poetic than the shit you wrote about your girlfriend every week. But honestly, fair enough; you guys are the pros apparently.
In closing, to all of you, I have one simple suggestion: if you decide to take another poetry class, push yourself. Even if you don’t take another class, push yourself in life, in work, in love, in every tiny death that befalls your best plan or step. Try hard to find some kind of hunger, because as it stands, you’re an easy take for whatever fate wants to do with you. I’m exhausted; I spent most of our nights in class together dreaming of punching Rich and of sleeping with four of you free of consequences. So I’m taking a break to rest up, you guys. Starting next week, I’m slumming it in the south of France and I’m going to live slow and dumb in amazing places until I forget what happened to me in our little poetry class.
Thank you for listening, best of luck with things, and goodnight. I’ll be in my car if any of you want to get high. Don’t show up if you’re just going to be a pussy and apologize.
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