Thursday, May 06, 2010

Christ, What An Asshole Redux: Verse Edition

I've been infatuated with this whole "Christ, What an Asshole" phenomenon ever since I heard about it, and after writing about it myself last week, well, I started thinking what else could you apply it to.

It had to be something relatively short that the addition of that phrase or variation there of would have a good impact on the final meaning.

Then it hit me. Of course, it could be done with poetry. So, I thought of a few poems off the top of my head to try it on, and here are the results.

The first poem that immediately sprang to mind when this little experiment popped into my head was "Footprints" by 1 of 70 different people. We've all heard it before in one form or another, and I think the addition of that phrase brings something new to the experience.

One night I had a dream--
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord
and across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints,
one belonged to me and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life.
This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you would walk with me all the way,
but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life
there is only one set of footprints.
"I don't understand why in times when I needed you most,
you should leave me."
The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child,
I love you and I would never, never leave you
during your times of trial and suffering.
"When you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."
And I replied "Christ, What an Asshole."


Now wasn't that lovely.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention William Carlos Williams, who had a brilliant career as a free verse poet. Let's go with "This Is Just To Say".

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

you are likely
thinking
Christ
what an asshole


My, that was educational, and so minimalist. But I think I can go even more minimal.

How about, "In a Station of the Metro" by Ezra Pound

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Christ, What an Asshole.


Yeah. Now, what about something longer. Let's go with "Chicago" by Carl Sandburg


Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your
painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: yes, it is true I have seen
the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women
and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my
city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be
alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall
bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted
against the wilderness,
Bareheaded,
Shoveling,
Wrecking,
Planning,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his
ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked,
sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.
And Christ, What an Asshole!


Now, let's shoot some fish in a barrel: "The Suicide Kid" by Charles Bukowski

I went to the worst of bars
hoping to get
killed.
but all I could do was to
get drunk
again.
worse, the bar patrons even
ended up
liking me.
there I was trying to get
pushed over the dark
edge
and I ended up with
free drinks
while somewhere else
some poor
son-of-a-bitch was in a hospital
bed,
tubes sticking out all over
him
as he fought like hell
to live.
nobody would help me
die as
the drinks kept
coming,
as the next day
waited for me
with its steel clamps,
its stinking
anonymity,
its incogitant
attitude.
death doesn't always
come running
when you call
it,
not even if you
call it
from a shining
castle
or from an ocean liner
or from the best bar
on earth (or the
worst).
such impertinence
only makes the gods
hesitate and
delay.
ask me: I'm
72.
And Christ,
what an Asshole.


And let's end this with some rhyme and form. Rudyard Kipling's "If-"

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master;
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run--
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--Christ, what an asshole you'll be, my son!


So are you can see, this thing can go a lot wider and a lot deeper than merely a funny little alteration to a comic strips everywhere. I may be back with a further use of this little trick sometime in the future.

7 comments:

Peter Lynn said...

Brilliant!

... I mean, Christ, what an asshole.

John said...

Awesome and brilliant idea for a post. I salute you, sir.

MC said...

Coming from the two of you based on your collective backgrounds, that is high praise indeed.

Schroeder said...

My first thought upon reading this was "What, no Bukowski?"

Then I realized that would be pretty redundant.

MC said...

There was some Bukowski... and yes, it was redundant. ;)

Arjan said...

that's some high standing poetry you posted there :)

MC said...

Shakespeare was, I deemed, baudy enough.