Dear Subscriptions:

The way I packaged and sold it to myself 
was that I came down with a case of writer's 
block, making it sound like a common cold—
accidental, blameless, and convenient—
which was a convenient line of shit. The truth 

is that I was hiding in my vagina (no offense 
to vaginas) with narcotic notions of Being a 
Writer, and not writing, and I had to kick it— 
so there was an order form and I thought it 
might help, but after reading my first issue 

of your magazine for poets and writers, I have 
learned to my surprise that I don't understand 
what poets and writers are. You'd think by now 
that I knew a thing or two about sitting at a 
keyboard, bleeding and all that—I mean, 

despite my confessed evasion—bleeding, 
editing, sending it out, getting back postcards
produced in bulk… “After careful reading and
consideration, we regret...” then lather, rinse,
repeat. But here you've got me wondering 

if poets and writers are just an elevated class
of mannequins on display in literary salons 
with badges stamped “Poets and Writers,”
and fearing (as I quickly shutter the blinds) 
that my ignorance of such a critical distinction 

might expose me as an Unbranded Amateur, 
a title easily substantiated by some other titles 
previously held by someone of my subservient 
caste: Dishwasher, Busboy, Waiter, Bartender, 
Enlistment Contract, Unemployment Insurance,

Notice of Default, Homeless, etc. My doubts 
became apparent as I tore out perforated ads like
weeds for scores of academic writing programs
(combined to make one thing abundantly clear:
There's no business like the MFA business): 

What would I do in a graduate workshop, 
sit with my face in the corner wearing a dunce’s 
cap? I might be invited to a publisher’s party 
as long as I’m serving a tray of cosmopolitans? 
And poetry fellowships, writing vacations—

was that a fucking misprint? Writing is a vacation?
Or is it more like smashing rocks in a quarry  
so the tenured literary masters of the universe
can deliver their lectures on granite podiums?
But misprints aside, I'm afraid the scope of your 

publication exceeds my somewhat limited grasp. 
I’ve enclosed my check as agreed, but not as a 
payment for subsequent issues: it's a payment
for you to stop sending them. I’m aware
of the fact that you don’t publish poems.

This one isn’t a submission or a gag.
Kindly cancel my subscription at once.
I don’t know what I was thinking when I 
ordered it. By rights, I’m barely functioning... 
but I found another magazine for writers with a 

column on how to re-purpose my rejection slips
as litter box liners, use them to wallpaper my  
bathroom à la Ford Madox Ford, plus other useful 
guides like planning an effective oven suicide.
I suppose I'll keep that subscription instead.
A version of this poem originally appeared in Issue #5 of In-flight Literary Magazine 
published in October 2015 by the Paper Plane Pilots. Tell 'em I sent you.

Rock & Roll Isn’t Dead, But I Was

Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief,
All kill their inspiration and sing about the grief

– from “The Fly” by U2
The car business was a bad decision 
and within a couple of years of getting 
sucked into that, it was killing my spirit, 
my weekends and my liver, and what little 
writing I was doing was anemic. So it was 
time to stop whoring out metal and glass
and what was left of my character and
'cuff myself to a typewriter, which I did.
It was the best move I could've made.

But after six or seven weeks of typing, 
the bills were piling up and they were
all past due. The notices were coming.
Then the phone calls started. Pretty soon
the bills were looking less like envelopes
and more like mean and filthy scavengers
crawling inside my mailbox, waiting for
the checks to be signed. But damned

if I was going to feed those parasites 
chunks of fresh currency I was stashing away
for my permanent escape from this antiseptic 
land of acetylene air, quarantined beaches
and Better Living With Breast Enhancements, 
so I looked for something else to use…

There was a record store across town
that bought used music. Their policy was
two to three dollars per item, and though I'd 
paid twelve to fifteen when they were new—
at the same store—I decided to unload
a library of relics from my functional
adolescence: over two hundred and fifty
compact discs filled with countless hours 
of dreams and madness, sometimes ending 
in feats I wouldn't have dared to emulate:

Jim Morrison turning cold in a bathtub in Paris;
Kurt Cobain face-down on the kitchen floor,
missing his face; the tortured epileptic Ian Curtis 
hanging himself with a clothesline; Syd Barrett 
a multicolored mass of tangled wires frayed at the ends—
how I had embraced the chords of their undoing! 

But at what cost? And to what end? “No,” 
I mused to myself, “it's time to plant brighter 
colors in the garden, not to 'reserve a plot 
for weeds' and allow the dead to bury

the living.” And these ghosts who staged 
fashionable exits from the horror of their own 
vacuous stardom, these bored, addled souls,
these electrified idiots in clear plastic 
cases, alphabetized and merchandized in 
every corner of this Daydream Nation—

I sold them off and many others, others 
not so tragically gifted (and some not gifted 
at all, to be honest); I stacked them up on the 
counter and laughed, “This is the end, alright—
goodbye, you dirty blue balloons and suicides, 
you dry-heaved bile, you shattered hallucinations
and stomachs pumped a minute too late… 
you market-friendly attention whores!”

And with one eye on the register and the 
other one on me, the clerk counted out 
the cash after we haggled back and forth
on the price, the cheap bastard. Then I stuffed
the cash in my pocket and walked out…

“And fuck your MTV!...” slagging off a box 
filled to the top with angels, devils, divas, gods, 
boxcar heroes with basement tapes… “Fuck your 
contractual obligations, your spandex delusions, your 

canned anarchy and your… you ought to be slapped 
out of your hysterics like a spin cycle out of balance...”

But actually, I ended up keeping quite a few.
Left behind on a dusty shelf was a young,
loud and snotty lot; a shockingly ambitious
Dublin quartet; a lonely, yodeling Manchester
bard; Liverpool's favorite sons, the Beatles
and the Bunnymen; Stones and Ramones
and lost astronauts; the mastery of decades
and centuries past; and music I have shared 
in my love that is more than music, with a 
verve too soulful and elegant to call a price.

And I couldn't sell Radiohead. I mean, come on. 
Radiohead? And since I felt like a Failure anyway...  

But I managed to feed most of the scavengers, 
at least for another week or two. And soon I'd be 
writing colorful poems on the other side of the 
country, and letting the parasites rot in the mailbox—
or so I thought, but that was a different story. 

And if it wasn't for the music I kept, I could've 
paid the other bills too. Taste prevented me. 
And reverence. And wonder. And wild thoughts 
as I carried that box of CDs to the car and rather 
regretfully drove them to the store: Ludwig 

suddenly bursting into my house and thrashing 
my knuckles with his baton; Sergei making me 
practice the “3” until the keys are smeared with 
blood; Lady Day slumped on the floor with all the 
day gone from her eyes, singing her last ballad; 

Bird perched on my bedpost with a saxophone
lullaby and a hot dose of heroin; then Muddy
dragging my comatose body down to the
Mississippi mire and laughing, “Bawgin with 
the alligatas, punk! Sneakin cross town an 
sellin us off fu fifteen cents on the DOLLA!”

As for Jim, Kurt, Ian and Syd, I wasn't that 
stupid: I still had a stack of those ghosts on vinyl, 
so I figured I was probably safe for a while.
2001
A version of this poem originally appeared in Issue #6 of In-flight Literary Magazine 
published in January 2016 by the Paper Plane Pilots. Tell 'em I sent you.

Wait, I Have A Blog?

Greetings, salutations, welcome new followers and… wait, I have a blog?

Okay, I admit it. Reports of my recent disappearance are fairly accurate, but I can explain. I’ve been held against my will in a dark literary cellar for the past few weeks, chained to an old desk and forced to write and rewrite original material. About every hour or so the “Muse” (that’s what she goes by, anyway) shows up with a bucket of blank pages, dumps them on my desk, and repeats over and over, “It puts the lotion on its skin.”—wait, wrong movie—”It puts the words on the paper,” to which I reply under my whiskey-soaked* breath, “Demanding bitch, aren’t you.” Of course, this is all just a line of shit to pepper over the honest fact that I’ve actually been lazy and giving in to what author Steven Pressfield identifies as Resistance.

But assuming I make it out of here alive—and if I don’t, I’ll leave a good-looking slush pile—I’ll have some exciting new stuff to post here. In the meantime, thanks for your patience. And big thanks to Foodblogger Mania for including Dry-Humping Parnassus on their list of recommended blogs for National Poetry Month, which reminds me—there are all sorts of poetry things happening on the Interwebz at the moment. My current favorite (owing to the fact that I’m a #HashtagWhore) is the #npm15 tag on Twitter which links to countless resources for reading and getting involved with poetry. You can also tweet your poems of 140 characters or less using that hashtag (or #NationalPoetryMonth), and if you’re really ambitious you can take part in #NaPoWriMo and post a new poem every day for the month of April. (Sorry, I’m not nearly that ambitious.) So blow up Twitter with your micro-poetry, and feel free to post your work in the comments, or mention me @robbylucas and I’ll retweet my favorites.

As for me, I’ll be tweeting my poems from a dusty cellar located somewhere in Thanks To Chloroform, I Don’t Have A Clue, while the nagging bitch—sorry, the “Muse”—paces up and down the stairs… “It puts the words on the paper…” and I’ll share them here as well.

So don’t bother sending for help. Send more whiskey* and light bulbs.

Cheers!

*This is also a line of shit, used purely for entertainment (mine). I prefer to write sober. The whiskey comes later.

Red Flag Waving

These words aren’t words— 
at last, they are only

mutable captives 
marched into a permanent desert;

this page is but a bare floor
marked by the footprints

of slaves seeking a master
never to be found.
                

And these lines— 
not lines, but flying insects

rushing toward the flame,
the caged ape swallowing its key,

Napoleon calling for Alexander
on the Isle St. Helena;

these lines are the bread lines
for cultivated hunger.

                
This verse is not free,
and this poem is no poem—

it’s a red flag waving at death,
at the comical futility of the poet’s

every utterance be it rational
or absurd, sublime or grotesque;

its rhythm is neither tranquil
nor its inspiration divine.

How To Make A Happy Poem

Disregard the surveillance drone circling overhead. Remain calm. Follow instructions. Be a good subject. Don’t complain. Don’t start a revolt. Don’t read rejection slips or the breakup letter on the kitchen counter: change the locks. Avoid common spills. Avoid famines, epidemics and peacekeeping invasions. Stay off the grass on rainy days and don’t speak of death, poverty, failure, the slightest hint of emotional distress. Discretion is advised. Remember your training. Keep regular hours. Drink coffee only with artificial sweeteners. Attend more workshops and motivational seminars. Watch more television. Buy more products. Sleepwalking is normal. Read this only once and discard, then look for your prize in specially marked boxes. Act now. Supplies are limited.   [Sample copy. Not for resale.]