Monday, November 14, 2011

pome for subway commuters

the crazy fucker on the train
you don't know what he'll do
for all you know, he'll start a fight
or hump a woman's purse at night
or vomit on your shoes

erratic though his conduct be
one thing's beyond debate
he'll flail, he'll thrash, he'll wet his pants
he'll sport a hard-on like a lance
but he is never late

that's right: the crazy fucker boards
with Swiss efficiency
uncanny how he seems to know
that you'll be there to watch his show
and flinch instinctively



Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Excellent. But why not "shoe" rather than "shoes"?

C'mon. Be bold! You've got poetic license!

You should write up several of this sort and submit them to Emanations . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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Kevin Kim said...

Sigh... it ruins the joke to have to explain myself, but here we go.

The way I see it, vomit that splatters on one shoe will almost certainly hit the other. By making "shoe" singular, I would bend the laws of physics and risk introducing a surreal note that would tug the poem in an undesired direction.

Besides, "shoe" in the singular sounds nursery-rhyme corny! Not a "bold" move, in my opinion.

Kevin Kim said...

I also think I'm on firm technical ground with assonant rhyme.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

There was a joke? Other than mine about being bold? Anyway, I realize that shoes usually go together out into the big bad world and suffer the same indignities, but not always.

Still . . . if you don't like "shoe," how about:

"you don't know what he'll choose"

That changes things a bit, but then your rhyme scheme is about perfect . . . though that sort of thing need not be religiously adhered to.

Jeffery Hodges

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Kevin Kim said...

You really don't like assonant rhyme, do you?

JSA said...

This pome makes me miss the subway. I love me some crazy.

Kevin Kim said...

I was on a subway in Seoul with my father, maybe in 2005 or 2006, when the air was suddenly filled with the angry shouts of a very drunk, possibly crazy individual. I couldn't figure out what he was yelling about, but we passengers gave him a wide berth, after which he started to take out his frustrations on one of the large, rectangular windows. He kicked it repeatedly until it was completely spiderwebbed with cracks, and then he stormed off at the next stop, disappearing into the human swirl.

My buddy Mike was with me one time on a nearly-empty subway when we heard someone fall over. We turned and saw a drunk guy on the floor, a pool of vomit at his head. The stench wafted down the car to us, and we elected to get the hell out of there.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Assonant rhyme is fine. I prefer to use it when my poem doesn't otherwise have a definite rhyme scheme.

If I were really extreme about rhyme pattern, I'd be pushing for "one thing I do maintain" to replace "one thing's beyond debate." But I'm not so insane as to press for a rhyme at the cost of a better line!

Anyway, I'm merely tossing around ideas (I'm not called the "Concept Cruncher" for nothing). The poem is excellent as is.

Jeffery Hodges

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Kevin Kim said...

Technical perfection at the expense of natural flow (not to mention any sense of fun) is the way to create correct but dry, listless poetry. "One thing I do maintain" sounds overly stilted-- "erratic though his conduct be" is already pushing it-- so I'm glad you're not insisting on that replacement. (Not that I'd change the poem based a single reader's aesthetic sense, in any event: I keep my own counsel unless it's obvious I've done something that objectively needs correcting. Call me a member of the Stephen R. Donaldson school of thought when it comes to critiques.)

I'm reminded of some of the music my brother Sean likes to listen to-- the sort of sounds that only a rarefied ear can enjoy: modernist, heavily electronic compositions, often seemingly discordant, and beloved of many a sophisticated musician. For that type of music, it's all about the math and less about the sounds. To me, it's just a bunch of robotic buzzing and shrieking-- not organic at all. It may be pure, in some abstract sense, but the self-consciously painstaking nature of the composition sucks all the life out of it. It's like the difference between an imperfect but rib-sticking home-cooked meal and the inedible sort of art-on-a-plate that we often see on the Food Network. Music, food-- pick your own simile.

Sure, sure: it's possible to create works that manage the trick of being beautiful, structurally perfect, and yet still lively and organic. But possible doesn't always mean desirable.

Maven said...

Seriously this is so apropos to NYC west side trains. I have yet to encounter all that much cray-cray or begging on east side trains, but from the moment I take the shuttle to Times Square or the 7 to Bryant Park to catch a west side north/south subway, holy shit, this is SPOT ON.

Now, the A train? The corridor to get to it is quite intimidating with its resident, mad scary "preacher man" pontificating about Jesus with so much vehemence and hatred in his speech, that makes me bristle at the notion (that the Jesus he's espousing is the same one, with whom I'm familiar).

Unrelated note: My sphincter clenched at the captcha code on this comment: "impect." Close enough for my colon (and gubmint werk).