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An Elegy For Michael Jackson

Submitted by on August 2, 2009 – 8:44 am 17 Comments

mj
An Elegy for Michael Jackson
By Joe Cloyd

What is the point of
Concerning ourselves
About the death of a
Popstar? Men and women
Endure incremental death
Every day. I see
Them. On the conveyor belt,
Getting bashed, smashed, crushed, and
Condensed into insane
And machine-minded cubes
Of frozen ground beef
Cursed and compelled to buy, sell,
And labor
For the rest of their days.

He was
Only mortal, and that’s
What we mortals do:
We die.
From the slow-death cooker
Our bodies and souls
Get lowered into the cleansing
Dirt. (Let us at least thank
The gods for that.)
And no cartoon character—
No false god—
No real god—
No Disneyland—
No lie—
Will give our
Bleached boiled souls
Asylum.
No matter how absurdly
And sadistically we
Wish for it.

17 Comments »

  • Halifax says:

    I’m alone sitting next to the creepy guy from the corner library. I asked and he swears he’s not joe cloyd. I don’t know why but I believe him.

  • misener says:

    yeah, me too. Maybe one of these days he’ll contribute some good poetry as well. (:

  • fogman says:

    Good ol’ “Catalyst” Cloyd really gets things stirred up. I’m glad he came along.

  • Editor says:

    Good string of comments.

  • fogman says:

    Excellent point Wally. Everybody has something to say, or to rant about. Poetry takes it up a notch and makes something interesting out of it by creating dynamic structures – via language, syntax, defamiliarized perspective, consonance, or whatever. Joe made an effort at that, but apparently can’t see beyond his own attempt at important meaning. As for accusations of ‘plagiarism’ – kind of touchy aren’t you, Joe? Pulling accusations out of thin air?

  • Wally Ballew says:

    I don’t think the issue is whether this is plagiarism or not. The issue is whether this is a poem or not. Superimposing line breaks on prose, with or without caps at the beginning of each line, does not a poem make. For a rant to be a poem still requires cadence and form. See “Howl!” by Ginsburg.

  • misener says:

    What, you a dail-up guy Joe? Or are you the creepy guy in the corner of the library submitting your poetry using your free library account?

    Can I guess your age, Joe? Please be honest. You can’t be over 22.

    By the way, I have both cable and high-speed internet. I’ve sold out to the culture. If you like my poetry, you better thank heavens that I’ve sold out.

    That being said, I think Kimberly has a point. She, at first, didn’t say the nasty P word, she said “closely resembles”. I thought the same thing when I read it. Still, the residual effect of the poem didn’t make me think of those shows, even though it initially reminded me of them, albiet grumpier and more nihilistic/ anti-culture.

    To get Zen on everybody’s ass: There is nothing original. Yet every poem on here is original. It’s a beautiful thing. Thank god for young hotheads like Joe.

  • I’d call all poets plagerists–we all steal ideas, that’s our job: to put things that others say or want to say in a new and beautiful way. So my problem with this piece is that it lacks that new voice.

    So, yes you are plagerising Colber and Stewart, but so are all poets who write contemporary poetry and most importantly vis-versa. We all feed off the same food; have the same inspiration.

    I don’t either have TV, unfortunately Colbert and Stewart are two of the few shows on hulu that run without buffer. I am guilty of owning high speed internet though. I’m a sell out, I guess

  • joecloyd says:

    Wait a minute KER. Now you said this resembles a skit done by Stewart or Colbert, which is basically accusing me of plagerism. Right? Ok. So which show did you see the skit that resembles the poem, because I haven’t watched either show since the end of the Bush adminstration. I don’t even have cable, much less high speed internet.

  • The thing that bothers me most about this is that the idea is anything but original. No shit Jackson’s death has been taken overboard. . .

    If you write a poem that too closely resembles a skit of Colbert or John Stewart, you’d have to do it in an original way– i don’t get that, at all. Sorry.

  • joecloyd says:

    Wow. I was expecting much worse. What I wasn’t expecting were the comments about the CAPS. I’ve got to say it seems pretty arbitrary to me, and nothing said here will make me stop using them. I say this not because I’m trying to be an arrogant prick, but because no one has given me a good reason besides the fact that it irritates them.
    I think Halifax was the most correct. It’s a rant, and not an elegy. A lot of the things I write are rants. That’s because I believe that the most important requisite of a writer is having something to say, and if not that, at least have a story to tell. To me, wordplay always comes second. But see, there I go again off on a rant, I just can’t stop.
    PS: Savagewave makes a good point too. Thanks everyone for the comments.

  • fogman says:

    The first stanza is kind of awkward – some of the line breaks work, others fall flat. As for first word caps, sometimes they work well for added emphasis, but only if they move in and out of the grammatical structures with a sense of rhythm and purpose – as they do a little better in the second stanza. At the start of line seven, “Them” kind of crashes because of the unexpected end to the sentence – apparently due to a stroke of editing inspiration where he sought to promote “On” to the first word of a new sentence. But one syllable words followed by a hard stop don’t often work well after a line break. Further, I’m uncomfortable with the lines that end “of” or “of a”. It looks like the writer is experimenting with unconventional breaks and technique, and sometimes these work fairly well, like “cleansing / dirt”, or “Condensed into insane” (but only if something better than “And machine-minded” were to follow the line break). Overall, I have about as much interest in this elegy as I do for all the endless media attention to the actual event. It’s poetry as philosophizing – and there’s nothing new or interesting about what’s being said. But with a little more feel for the language and the experimental attempts at building a poetics in this piece, it could have been reasonably good. I think the point would be to make the poetics rise above the content and create an interesting structure – but, in this case, I don’t think they do. Its an interesting effort though. The second stanza rises above the first, but a good poem needs to draw a reader in. If I didn’t have some interest in critiquing it, I would have quit reading after the sixth line.

  • AgSynclair says:

    As much as I would like to rip this to shreds, simply to give grumpy Joe a taste of his own meds….I can’t. It’s beautifully written, it rolls over the toungue like good Scotch, and quite honestly, it’s first rate. YES, I can do without the CAPS beginning each line, but that’s an easy fix and a minor issue. As poetry, bravo. Nothing I can say will improve this. As social commentary however, maybe not so great. Popstars, movie stars, sports figures….these will always be American Idols, for better or worse, and fighting that is futile, even with a great poem. Nicely done.

  • Halifax says:

    Nobody makes fun of poets to feel taller. Trucks are built for that and bellow it louder than you could yourself.

    I could have gotten into this if he had reveled in the character of MJ outliving the body and explored the idea that the media is actually unsure of what to do with this image they created now that the person who hated it most finally escape it. Maybe bounce a little more on the difference between the perception of self, the application of a personality by others, the power struggle between the simple bare bones you are born with and the identity built around you by loved ones and detractors.

    But no. It reads to me like a rant posing as an elegy. I liked the lines of cleansing with dirt but that felt recycled. A defeatist poem with a nihilist tendency railing against society/media/culture/god. That’s too many -ists for my tastes. Is it too much to expect in a poem so titled that I would get some feeling for what he had to say about Michael Jackson’s life and passing?

  • savagewave says:

    Yeah, so now I understand why Joe is so grumpy and harsh about people’s work…he’s mad that they’re better than him and putting people down makes him feel taller.

    So, about the “work” he’s submitted; this is actually a piece of prose forced into what an amateur thinks a poem looks like. And taken as that piece of prose, with the attempt at “poetry” ignored or forgiven, it has some interesting word combinations worth contemplating – for a moment. Of course, Joe writing and posting to the www about the undue attention paid to the death of just another human simply because of his fame is guilty of the same ridiculousness as the accused.

    What is the point of
    Concerning ourselves
    With this babbling piece of
    Pseudo-poetry
    About the death of a
    Popstar?

    Furthermore and whatnot, whenever I see the first lines capped on a “poem” I automatically look for the hidden message that the letters make up. Can you find it here?
    WCAPEETGCAOCAFHOWWFOGDTANNNNWBANAW

  • misener says:

    I agree. Thw hole capitalizing the first word of the line is annoying. Ya gotta turn that setting offa yo laptop, Cloyd.

    That being said, I liked the work. It’s dark. It’s depressing.

    I think we should put Cloyd on suicide watch.

    Loved the conveyer belt cubed human meat image. Visceral. Vivid.

    A nice exploration into death, nothing revolutionary, but good nonetheless.

    It’s basically saying “fuck MJ” we all die too, bitch. We seek shelter from the reality of death in the shadow of idols.

    Cloyd, you’re such a mean guy sometimes. I love you, though, for what you sparked comment-wise on H&H. Keep it up, grumpy-ass. Maybe one day you’ll write something amazing.

  • Wally Ballew says:

    Flush left and ragged right
    Does not a poem make.
    Nor does capping
    The first letter
    In every line.

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