Day 161: Compose a poem and leave it in a public place.Posted: June 10, 2011
I am not so good at making poems. Remember this one?
That’s why I started on today’s task months ago, as soon as I’d gotten over the shock of Day 20: I wanted a good poem to leave in a public place, so that I could feel pride and not shame. So I surrounded myself with good poetry: Shakespeare’s sonnets, Paradise Lost, Donne, Blake, Eliot, Silverstein. I wrote, I re-wrote, I revised, I started over; I wrote until I looked like Pig:
I finally came up with something I was happy with: something moving, something deep and meaningful, but also something that would resonate with the people, that would embed itself into people’s minds and take root there.
It is a poem for our time, and I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that, centuries from now, it will still be read and taught. It is the best poem of the century, and I’m aware that we’re only eleven years in. My poem is easily better than anything you were forced to read in school.
This is not a poem I could staple to telephone poles and post on bulletin boards and leave on the windshields of cars, like it was a lost dog flyer. It needs a broader audience, a global audience. I had to get it on to the internet, obviously, and into the browsers of millions. But where do people go for poetry on the internet?
They don’t, of course, or not in the sorts of numbers my poem deserves. This was an obstacle, and I won’t deny that I lost sleep trying to figure out how to overcome it. It finally came to me when I was in the middle of something else — mowing the lawn, maybe, or urinating on my compost — make it a goddamned song.
So I set it to music. I found someone to sing it. I made a video. I posted it to YouTube four months ago, and since then, it’s been viewed over one hundred and sixty million times. That’s right: one hundred and sixty million times. Maybe you’ve seen it already, and didn’t realize I was behind it: I’ve tried to cover my tracks. Today, though, this second Friday in June, I’m ready to claim responsibility.
Look on my works, ye mighty, and rejoice.