Monday, November 30, 2015

Poem of the Week 11.30.2015

                                               


                                              The Stupid Jerk I'm Obsessed With (c.1994)

THE STUPID JERK I'M OBSESSED WITH
stands so close
I can feel his breath on my neck
and smell the way he would smell
if we slept together
because he is THE STUPID JERK I'M OBSESSED WITH
and that is his primary function in life
to be A STUPID JERK I CAN OBSESS OVER
and to talk to that dingy bimbette blonde
as if he really wanted to hear about her
manicures and pedicures and New Age Ritualistic Enema Cures
and, truth be told, he probably does want to hear about it
because he is
THE STUPID JERK I'M OBSESSED WITH
and he does anything he can to lend fuel to my fire
he makes a point
of standing, looking over my shoulder
when I'm talking to the guy who adores me
and would bark like a dog and wave to strangers
if I asked him to bark like a dog and wave to strangers
but I can't ask the guy to bark like a dog or impersonate
any kind of animal at all
cause I'm too busy
looking at the way
THE STUPID JERK I'M OBSESSED WITH
has pants on
that perfectly define his well-shaped ass
to the point where I'm thoroughly frantic,
I'm just gonna go home
stick my head in the oven
overdose on nutmeg and aspirin or sit in the bathtub
reading The Executioner's Song
and being completely confounded by the fact that I can see
THE STUPID JERK I'M OBSESSED WITH's face
defining itself in the peeling plaster of the wall
grinning
and winking
and I start yelling: "Hey, get the hell out of there, you're just a figment of
my overripe imagination, get a life and get out of my plaster and pass me
the next painful situation please."

But he just keeps on
grinning
and winking
he's THE STUPID JERK I'M OBSESSED WITH
and he's mine
in my plaster
and frankly,
I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER.

                                                           -Maggie Estep (March 20, 1963 – February 12, 2014)

When I first heard Maggie Estep, or of her, I was fifteen and sitting in front of the television watching a special edition of MTV's unplugged. I'm afraid I don't remember the exact poem she performed, but nevertheless I was captivated by her. She was introduced as a rock star of spoken word, and I could see why. She was witty, honest, and hilarious. She was someone I could look up to because she was doing something I would never imagine myself doing: performing (no, Judith Butler does not apply here). She stood up on the stage and, to the accompaniment of guitars and drums, performed. It was grungy. It was gritty. It was revolutionary, in a way I'd come to appreciate later in life. There was a punk rock quality to it. I wanted more of it. I needed more. She remained inaccessible to me until a few weeks ago where, in tandem with another thought about my uncle performing at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, wondered whatever happened to that lady on MTV. Her name remained on the tip of my tongue until that day, when I opened an anthology of slam poetry and BAM! there she was: "Maggie Estep (b.1963)." I was excited because she, according to the anthology, was still alive and probably still performing. YAS (no, it's not misspelled)! Unfortunately, after doing some basic googling, I learned that she passed away last year at 50. 50! From a heart attack, at such a young age!

A bit about the transcribed text and the performance herewith attached. They don't completely agree with one another. I procured a copy of the text through an anthology of spoken word poetry. By the good graces of Google, I found a recording of Estep performing The Stupid Jerk I'm Obsessed With. I find both the text and the recording to be fascinating pieces themselves. This poem is also performed on Estep's album called "No More Mr. Nice Girl." I haven't listened to that particular performance, and cannot make a comparison against the text as a finality. Therefore, you're getting both the text and the found recording of a performance.

Anywho, onto a bit about the poem. I would have let it go and been happy with the knowledge of the name of the woman on MTV, but the poem spoke to me. It spoke to my obsessive and possessive nature. We've all had our crushes, and they were our crushes, and you'd be damned if you had to share your crush with someone else. No, I'm not talking about some fan-girl celebrity crush here. I'm talking about a realistic crush. A crush on someone who is accessible. Someone who you hear, feel, and smell; not the Angelina Jolie or Chris Hemsworth crush, who are forever in the sacred golden pavilion of celebrity (and are married, so get over it already and get a realistic crush). I'm pandering to that crush. Aren't they stupid jerks? In the first place, they're stupid jerks for existing (how dare they? - violently shakes fists in the air-). Next, they're jerks for being everywhere, and I mean everywhere. They're in the shape of your peeling plaster, for goodness sake. You just can't stop obsessing over this stupid jerk. To make things worse, some other guy is probably thinking you're a stupid jerk he's obsessed with because the feeling is not mutual. Hot ass messes we all are (or maybe it's just me, but I highly doubt this is the case). 

In all seriousness, this poem speaks to an experience we've all experienced at least once in our lives (and if you say nope, you're lying to yourself or you were lucky and married your high school crush -confetti for you!): the bliss, yet madness we experience when we've found that jerk to crush over. 

Maggie Estep's NYT Obituary




-Luis

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