Friday, December 20, 2013

Letter to a Young Poet

Before I do this poem, I just want to make one thing clear: I think Christine Daie should've ended up with the Phantom, not Raoul. I know Raoul has nice cheekbones and he's not crazy and doesn't drop chandeliers on people, but I don't care.

This poem is for anyone thinking of becoming a poet.

Dear Young Man,

(I don't know why I assume you're a boy and not a girl. Maybe you can be a girl, and if you are, you can be pissed off that I just assumed you were a boy and it will fuel your poetry.) Here's some advice:

#1. Be pissed off.

Smiles and rainbows are for children's cereal commercials. And kittens make for great online videos, but don't actually inspire anybody.

#2. Get a notebook and carry it around with you everywhere.

#3. Begin the ever-elusive search for the perfect pen.

You'll never find it.

#4. Get rid of your X-box.

Not only will this give you the time you need to write, it will make one of your friends very happy (because you gave him an X-box).

#5. Friends are overrated.

I'm not saying you have to get rid of all your friends. Just most of them.

#6. Be yourself.

I have no idea what this means. Maybe quit trying to be like everyone else. I don't know. But don't be too proud of this. It's like vegetarians- or people who don't own televisions. Good for you. Now leave me alone while I eat a bacon burger and watch New Girl.

#7. Look around.

Poets are different. They don't look at the world the same way as everyone else. So pay attention and remember: you're always working.

#8. Don't do drugs.

You may have heard that LSD can enhance creativity, but mostly it just makes you paranoid and delusional and HOW DID ALL THESE BIRDS GET IN HERE?!?!

#9. Read.

If you don't have a library card you are a waste of taxpayer offspring.

#10. Don't become a poet.

Seriously, forget everything I just said. If you really want my advice, listen up.

Close the notebook and put it back in your backpack.

Don't let anyone catch you sitting alone during lunch. That's social suicide. And don't actually give away that X-box your parents gave you for Christmas, are you crazy? Don't get caught noticing the world.

Grab a napkin and wipe that heart off your sleeve. Tell everyone it's ketchup. If you can't get it out, try a little cough syrup and mix it with alcohol. Sometimes it leads to death and even worse, never moving out of your parents' basement. But these are all better than embarrassment and not fitting in. Being yourself only works on the Disney channel and Different is only good in Arby's commercials.

You better spend less time worrying about which poem to write next and more time worrying about which belt goes good with those shoes, cuz honey we're going out tonight and everyone's gonna be there.

Make eye contact with people in suits. Shake their hands, don't worry about the dust. Anis Mojgani isn't a prophet. He's just some dude with a beard who sometimes puts videos on YouTube. I'm glad you're so enthusiastic about the idea of being an artist, but we're talking about the rest of your life here. Art school's only for autistic kids and wealthy orphans who have nothing better to do.

Pick up the phone and call Rauol back. Rauol! Get Rauol on the phone, damn it, and tell him you're sorry. Tell him it's over between you and the Phantom. You were just going through a phase, or you needed space, or whatever, but it's over now. It's over and you're ready to come home.

Quit trying to be different. Go back to the mall and return those pants you just bought. Apologize for the Sharpie stains on the pocket and be sure to ask for a receipt.  And while you're there you may as well ask for a job application.

The road not taken is full of long grass and branches. Nobody knows for sure where it goes, and it's unpopular for a reason. Don't worry about that voice you hear that sounds like it's coming from your heart.

It will go away soon.


  1. I love this while also being really frustrated by it. You inspire me and then negate yourself and leave me with doubts. I can't tell if this is you trying to have us reach a breaking point with the Phantom and Raoul, if you are having inner turmoil over it yourself, or if you are encouraging us to choose one of the paths.

    That's why I'm frustrated. Still beautiful though.

    Anyways, cheekbones don't make people happy.

  2. I'm really glad you made it clear at the beginning that you like the Phantom because you really tugged on my heart strings going off about Rauuuool…

    The part about wiping ketchup off your sleeve or whatever and not having friends. The part about Watching New girl and something about Anis Mojgani.

    "It will go away soon." so freaking good

  3. I loved this so so much.

    Thanks Nelson.

  4. I love this! You literally have know idea how much I love this. And it was awesome when you read it in class.

    And I wanted Christine to be with the Phantom too. Raoul's hair bugs me..he looks like a freaking girl!

  5. Nelson. You rapped at the school assembly and you like the Phantom.
    Also, you wrote this.
    Also, I used to be Lucy, in case you were wondering, which probably you didn't but I really really love this entire everything that is the creative writing classes. #sophomore #nextyear

  6. "and remember: you're always working."
    and I love when you do this-- "cuz honey we're going out tonight and everyone's gonna be there."

    The best thing you've ever said is "Ignore everybody". I will never forget it. This reminded me of that.

    "Apologize for the Sharpie stains on the pocket and be sure to ask for a receipt."

  7. "taxpayer offspring" LOL

  8. ....and this is still maybe my favorite thing you've ever written.

  9. This was really confusing because the parts that told me to stop thinking made me think and I'm still trying to decide if you meant to do that or not.

  10. the part about the heart and the ketchup and the voice and

    i got for real chills and i don't know if that's dumb but



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