My Senpai Under Master Edgar


He says his poetry is terrible.

To one that knows him little or not at all,
it may seem shocking.
Perhaps, self-beration, excessive humility
or an exaggerated and false modesty.
But, as many things in poetry and of poets,
it is an accurate paradox.
Words used similar enough to common currency
so as to be coherent,
but twisted enough to point to hidden truths
that need and deserve reflection
which will banish you from society’s path;
words no sheep without wool black as night
can understand.
He says his poetry is terrible.

The fact of the matter is, he’s right.
It is terrible.
His poetry is downright horrible.
However, it is not the quality of his art that is terrible.

No, no talentless poet or without discipline
can spend nearly as many years writing
and reciting
as many works as he has already.
No amount of bribery, fortune or charm can produce
a book of poems with the kind or sort of local praise
that is contained within his, or surrounds it.
Most definitely, they cannot.

And yet still, it is terrible.
It can make your skin crawl, muscles ache;
it can summon tears, please demons
and demolish your peace.
His poetry can shatter complacency,
and set old wounds or scars on fire.
His poetry is terrible because it is like an honest tyrant,
a necessary forest fire, an inevitable hurricane.
His poetry is terrible because
it often speaks of what others dare not.

It does not do these things through sloppy writing,
excessive confession, abuse of cliché
or unwarranted, merciless morbidity.
His poetry will not embarrass you or his ilk.
His poetry will not violate your integrity or taste—
unless, of course, being impressed or shocked offends you.
No, his poetry is not terrible in the sense of being worthless.

His poetry is terrible because it is relentless.
His poetry is terrible because the impacts are deliberate.
His poetry is terrible because it is visceral and honest.
His poetry is terrible because he feeds off nightmares, even.
His poetry is terrible because the ugliness of which it speaks, is polished.
His poetry is terrible because, in many ways, it is about terrible things.
His poetry is terrible because there is a sort of cold method to the madness.
His poetry is terrible because it is unapologetic.
His poetry is terrible because it simply does not allow you to stay as you are.

The English would have called him Henry.
Like the corsair that bombarded San Juan’s fortifications.
His transits through San Juan’s Passage of poetry
often echo reminiscent of the historical experience.
He is the fourth Henry of the line,
born to the number of discipline and death.
And, as he truthfully says, his poetry is terrible.

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This Poems Story

This poem is a mixture of a tribute to a friend and mentor, while also a tribute to the legacy of the late Edgar Allan Poe, as it lives on in some modern poets. It's also a reaction to my friend saying his poetry is terrible, then finding out someone else had genuinely said it about his writing.