Worst Things First
A bag of thank-you notes fell
on me and that was enough
art for one day. Culturally speaking,
it was more like a year
in the floral trenches, kicked off
with a single boneless kiss.
Poor sad demon in his poor dead tree—
or is it he who pities me, cockshy
quasihero with a latex lasso,
taking forever to measure
the dimensions of his confinement.
Some other demons have smeared a flock
of sparrows on a blanket, the full filthy
price of a sky under which they smoked
their names. My prize is a set
of teeth, striptease at the nude beach,
audio files of decomposing stars
telling me, if they’re telling me
anything, that theory’s just another word
for nothing left to like.
About this Poem
"Last year Melissa Broder asked a pack of poets to write in response to tarot cards; I drew the High Priestess. You may detect in the last lines an echo of a song covered by Janis Joplin, something of a high priestess herself. In her version, Bobby, previously a woman, was made into a boy."
Mark Bibbins, born in Albany, New York, in 1968, received his BA at Hunter College and his MFA at The New School in Manhattan, where he has lived since 1991.
Bibbins is the author of three books of poetry: They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re Full (Copper Canyon Press, 2014); The Dance of No Hard Feelings (Copper Canyon Press, 2009); and Sky Lounge (Graywolf Press, 2003), winner of a Lambda Literary Award.
Known for their sardonic wit, arresting titles, unmistakable sexuality, surprising range of references, and wild diversity of scope, Bibbins’s poems rise from the mania of politics, media, and pop culture and address it with no shortage of irony, humor, and condemnation.
“With a title that perfectly encapsulates its tone and potential energy, Bibbins harnesses his venom and directs it toward those social forces that serve to numb people to the violence of their stultified lives. There’s urgency even in its moments of quiet, and beauty in every explosion,” wrote Publishers Weekly, which named They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re Full one of the “Best Books of 2014.”
The recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in poetry, Bibbins teaches in the graduate programs at Columbia University and The New School, where he cofounded LIT magazine.
They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re Full (Copper Canyon Press, 2014)
The Dance of No Hard Feelings (Copper Canyon Press, 2009)
Sky Lounge (Graywolf Press, 2003)
Date Published: 2013-09-26
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/worst-things-first