Poems aren’t one thing. Poems are many things.

Sometimes poems can be funny. Laughing is important. Laughing is healthy. There’s no reason a poem can’t make you laugh. Sometimes I try to be funny. I once wrote a poem about checking gmail often.

Sometimes poems can be sad. Being sad is an integral component of the human experience. And it comes to everyone in different ways at different times. Sometimes I read sad poetry and it makes me feel less alone. Like, a sense of camaraderie or bond with the author. Sometimes I write from this place with the hope of giving that gift to someone else. I once wrote a poem about not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.

Sometimes poems can comment on the state of the world. This world is pretty fucked up all the time. People can be cruel. People can be greedy. People can be wholeheartedly unaware of what it is they’re actually doing. Sometimes I write in a way that targets a person or a piece of culture that I don’t agree with. I once wrote a poem that was simply a list of billionaire Larry Ellison’s expensive possessions.

Sometimes poems can be absurd. There’s a line in a Neutral Milk Hotel song that I’ve carried with me for years, “How strange it is to be anything at all.” Existence is inherently absurd given that no one chooses to be born, no one knows why, and everyone dies. There’s so much mystery everywhere. I like poetry that explores the mystery and absurdity of everyday life.

I stand opposed to declaring any poem “good” or “bad.” I think it’s a real petty assertion that inherently implies some contrived universal standard of literary merit. I don’t think that exists. When commenting, I try to articulate “what I like” or “what I took from it.” Our individual experience of reading a poem is just as unique as each different poem, so I try to acknowledge the subjectivity of the practice.

The idea that poems “can be anything” is becoming more and more pronounced over the years. I’m not saying curated lists of Tweets are poems. I’m not saying curated lists of Tweets are not poems. I’m saying that the art, and how the art is interpreted, is incessantly changing. I keep an open mind. I keep it fun.


just opened my eyes
now checking gmail
just realized i fell back asleep
now checking gmail
just took a sip of coffee
now checking gmail
just checked twitter
now checking gmail
finally put clothes on
now checking gmail
walking over the river
checking gmail
just made eye contact with a squirrel
now checking gmail
just sat down on the grass
just felt the sun
just felt the breeze
now checking gmail
just read Alexander Shulbin’s entire wiki page
now checking gmail
just checked gmail
now checking gmail
just stood on my head for thirty seconds
now checking gmail
just noticed the purple stripes on my skin
now checking gmail
just noticed the dots developing
just itched the dots
just started bleeding
just watched the blood change color four times
just realized the blood didn’t change color
it was my eyes that changed
four times they did
and now i’m staring at my stripes
i see them gradually fade away
and then reappear
like a pulse
each time they reappear they seem to grow
they’re getting bigger
yes, wider
but even more strikingly
they’re beginning to protrude out from my skin
getting more and more pronounced
and more robust
and i’m captivated
and it’s out of my control
and they grow
and they grow
and they grow
and now i’m checking facebook