Let’s All Write an Insult Poem!

by Paul Mathers

It took a lot to get myself to write that title. I am praying that our text will return to poetic forms that I actually want to write sometime in the near future. Laurie actually suggested that I skip this one, but, in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a bit of an obsessive completeist. The problem being: I am not an insulter. It’s a poetic form which grates against my belief system. I believe in creating good rather than pointing out evil. In the few cases where I find it appropriate and, indeed, necessary to speak out against an evil, I sure as hell don’t write a jokey poem about it.

The poem form is precisely what the name would suggest. You are called upon to write a poem insulting someone. I do not think of myself as something grand and others beneath me. The few things in this world I might feel capable of summoning up an insulting spirit toward I take a little too seriously to put into a smug poetic form.

And suddenly I see that I could write an insult poem about the poetic form of insult poems.

All of this is why it’s been several weeks since our last poetic form. I’ve been stewing about what to do with this one. I finally decided to write one about what we as a civilization do with Christmas. I found it worked because I could say “we” rather than “you.”

A Christmas Insult Poem to the Damned Human Race

by Paul Mathers

On Avarice! On Pride! On Lust and Anger! On Gluttony! On Envy! On Sloth and Disappointment!

Fear which shines so brightly

that it’s all we trust to lead us through our self-imposed darkness.

Our slavish, horror-show children Ignorance and Want

forced to load this sleigh with bijous

grown from the bloated corpse of starvation.

This satyr to Hyperion of intention.

This world could be whatever we make of it

and this is what we’ve made of it.

Tabula rasa of infinite potential

and we use it to flip out about things we saw on television,

build cases for our superiority upon sand.

That we delight in insulting

like vomiting down our shirtfronts

as the wondrous universe unfolds above us unnoticed

and the hand of God preserves us

like the germs beneath our fingernails.

The goodness in the heart of man stirs some innate remembrance:

A standard born in each babe

and systematically murdered,

thrown into the furnace of self-interest.

The potential like photosynthesis in this season.

We could but we won’t.