Don’t build fires on the beach. Don’t
swim while impaired. Don’t cook food.
Don’t say anything at all to the seagulls.
Don’t forget to call your mother.
Don’t tempt fate. Don’t disrobe.
Don’t engage in sexual innuendo,
it could lead to the bad. Don’t drink
alcohol. Don’t fiddle. Don’t fail
to improve the time. Don’t spit.
Try not to smoke. Don’t forget
to use sun block. Don’t rub that
girl’s back. Don’t put your hands
inside your trunks. Don’t swim
in the absence of lifeguards. Don’t
do your business. Don’t bring
pets. Don’t translate the wind.
Don’t feather your nest. Don’t
snap your towel. Don’t say love me.
Don’t do crystal. Don’t ever die.
This poem is light-hearted, But I don’t feel light-hearted these days. There is humor here, but for that I go to someone like Gilbert Godfried, or Emo Phillips. I go to poetry, when I go there at all, for the language equivalent of heroin, or damnation. So, so what? It’s good, but, so what? That seems harsh, even to my ears, but it bothers me that I can’t simply enjoy this. The last poet I turned to, wanting a little consolation and levity, was E.E.C., who is funny in the way a stroke is funny. You need to put this poem on the stack of poems you have that are like unto it. Clever list poems that, while, are in no way objectionable, will never abet a revolution, inspire a well-earned suicide, or, at the very least, cause one to lose one’s religion. Some of your recent poems, by way of contrast, really do it for me–they dance on the rim of the abyss. If you’re on a roll with those kinds of poems, best stay with it.