How to Read a Poem

Poetry is… well… whatever the Poet says it is.

If you know he or she is a stinky poet… hold your nose… and carefully read for anything worthy, and if you find nothing worth standing the smell of… then throw it in the trash before you let go of your nose so you never get a whiff of stinky poetry… that stuff can kill you.

If you know the poet is an average poet… hold your nose… just in case… and look to see if the ideas are crisp and fresh, bought in a farmer’s market rather than Walmart, and grown organically…  not factory farmed.  You should also check the quality of the protein versus the power of the carbohydrates… you don’t need too many calories in your poetry.  Then let go of your nose…  Why were you holding your nose anyway?  Olfactory poetry is only for dogs and bad poets.  Appreciate the nutrients in the verse, and ignore the effects of starvation that will set in if you never read any poetry above this level.  The Rod McKuen and Joyce Kilmer level… well… if you only read this stuff, you deserve to poetically starve.

But then there is the  Shakespeare-Sonnet level of poetry.  No, get your hand away from your nose… this is not stinky-poet territory now.  You are up in the stratosphere where if you get too close to the sun, you will get a Robert Browning, and if you swing too low over the Arctic, you may get a bit of Robert Frost.  William Butler Yeats… Theodore Roethke… William Blake…  John Keats… Emily Dickinson…  they all will put wrinkles in your brain and silver streaks in your hair.  You will find things you never thought about before… but wanted to know… needed to know… dared to know…  but never before found anywhere else… because that’s what poetry is for… you read it… and understand a bit of the mind of God.

But finally, there is the unknown level of poetry.  You go in with eyes wide open… not knowing if you will encounter the Goddess Aphrodite… or a monster… whether you will find love at first sight… or be hideously devoured by something wicked.  This is where the horrible poetry of Mickey is most likely to abide (because unlike you, most people are wise enough not to read him,) and where the greatest poetry that Mickey has not yet read resides.  Definitely enter here at your own risk.

So, that is the way Mickey recommends you read poetry.  Aware that you may encounter rapturous particles of the heavenly ether, or die a death by dreadful doggerel verse.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, poetry, reading

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