June 22nd, 1608

Dearest William,

Ah, Will—you always know what to say. Alas, you never know what to write. What is this thing? Look, I appreciate that you have seen fit to write a welter of saccharine sonnets, but come on! For the 18th time—I get the point—you’re super into me. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” you ask. Well, I’d prefer that you not. We’re in the middle of plague season here, and the thought of my being tantamount to a summer’s day makes me think not of carefree walks in the park, but oozing pustules and the rancid stench of carrion. Don’t get me wrong, the thought was sweet, but take a reality check: I just lost my dog, my brothers, my sisters and my parents to the Black Death. At least in December the malodorous wind of death is quelled by the smoldering Yule logs. So, while I may be “more lovely and more temperate” than a summer’s day, that’s small consolation. Why don’t you just compare me to decomposing flesh? Maybe things are ship-shape up in Stratford-upon-Avon, but here in London, we’re fucked. I’m not trying to be mean, it’s just that it would behoove you to stop being so rosy about everything and maybe volunteer to help cart off bodies, or at least stop this drivel about the “darling buds of May.”

Furthermore, what’s all this crap about “And summer’s lease hath all too short a date”? You’re telling me that you’d like this pestilence to drag out until December? No thanks! Will, I think I understand what you’re trying to get at, but my creative writing teacher always said, “Show, don’t tell,” and I think that’s some pretty sage advice. “Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,” you write. Why not just say, “I like your moves,” or by “the eye of heaven” are you trying to say “the sun”? Looks like somebody didn’t do his science homework. Ever heard of Copernicus? You should read him. He’ll get you to change your astronomical tune. God, you can be so dense! Not to mention, why don’t you just come out and identify my gender? This shit looks like it could be to a man or a woman. What are you afraid of? Are you into dudes or chicks? You should let me know.

And just when it looks like things are turning around for me (sonnet-wise), you break into new-age doggerel about “gold complexions” and “nature’s changing course.” Excuse me while I barf. Next thing I know, you’re going to be interpreting bones, eating macrobiotic gruel and listening to that crunchy fife band out of Leeds. Man up, Will! Maybe provide a little more and write a little less. (BTW, I can’t believe I’m wasting this much ink on you, Will. It’s a testament to my patience that I put up with this garbage.)

By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;

What. Was. That? You mean to tell me I’ve got to somehow reimburse nature for my beauty? My ass, Billy-boy. Nature gave me this body and I don’t remember any clause in the cosmic deal about payback. Also, are you trying to pun there with the whole fair/fare thing? You’re an absolute ape sometimes, Will. Yes, a gorilla. Not a guerilla, Will. A big, balding, red-assed gorilla. Are you going to leave Anne, by the way? Don’t you think she’s getting a little suspicious sleeping in your second-best bed? You’re incorrigible! Are you back on the mead? Look, I’m not trying to be some kind of niggling pettifogger (I, too, know how to consult a thesaurus, Will), but I also suspect you pilfered (at least partially) your inane, yet familiar conclusion that:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee

Horseshit. This abomination of rhyme scheme and meter makes me want to kill myself, Will. Not quite the affirmation you were looking for? Tough. Seeing as I’ll probably be dead soon from the plague, I’ve got better things to do than read this palaver. One more of these and I’m going to consider shacking up with Marlowe. At least he knows how to treat a woman. And a man.