The Hermit Poet

August 4, 2005

Bad Poetry and Perspective

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 11:58 pm

If you ever want to feel better about what you write now, look back at what you were writing in high school.

Yuzun (a friend of mine from Kundiman) and I spent most of this evening exchanging our worst poems from high school. Wow. I’m amazed how far we both have come. We both almost died laughing from how abysmal some of our early poetic efforts were. If anything, I will definitely be more forgiving to my students this fall — it’s not easy starting out as a poet and we tend to make quite a few missteps along the way.

I will stick my neck out and share what we agreed was my worst poem:

(Note the dramatic pause and the skillful use of “sundry”)

On Paths of Pain

When bitter blackness sucks the summer sky dry
A billowing surge of darkness to drown
The cackling laugh of the thundergod’s son

Then… a flood of despair seals the bloody rain
On silent mountains
Their roads paved with broken hopes
From sundry lives.


Ooo the pathos. And bathos. And the terrible terrible teen angst. I can’t even read this now with a straight face.

A close second though is this:

A Crimson Rhine

Streams of blood endlessly flow
Through once green fields, lost long ago.
‘Neath churned mud, the rusty wires writhe,
Dark snakes that slither, through the stockpiled dead.
The cold gray eyes of the innocent lie, half-mute,
Under the darkening skies
Black numbing silence hides the sores
But still, in the night, artillery roars
Echoing in thunder the words of the Kaiser:
“I lead you to glorious times!”
False hopes hide a crimson Rhine.

Hmm… “half-mute eyes”? and the awful groaner of a last line.. ack. I’m glad those days are behind me (mostly).

So I’m curious, what would you consider your worst poem and why?

One Response to “Bad Poetry and Perspective”

  1. chrisdaines Says:

    HAH! I found it. It was good seeing you this weekend Neil. Looking forawrd to your next reading.

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