The “Fuck You, Clown” Poetry Initiative.

My sister sillygirl84, lately M.I.A. somewhere in the Maine wilderness teaching youngsters to weave god’s-eyes with popsicle sticks and hunt moose or some such summer-campness, has long been traumatized by our mother’s tendency to tell anecdotes with no perceptible narrative arc. To wit: “So I was on my way to pick up the car, and then I noticed that artichokes were on sale at Fairway, and later I was going to meet your father at the Cornell Club, and we’ve been meeting there a lot; I like to use their gym…” and then she trails off, and sillygirl84 says, “And?” and mom looks a bit surprised and says, “That’s it,” and sillygirl84 turns to me with that look of painful disbelief that says, “Can you believe what this woman does to me?? I have been enduring this abuse for years!” and I say, “I’m opening another bottle of wine.”

Eventually my put-upon sister, in a mood of self-preservation-oriented generosity, devised the following solution to my mother’s wayward storytelling: that when mom had (mistakenly) determined that the “story” was finished, she add, “And then I found five dollars,” thereby giving the anecdote some semblance of form, if not particularly scintillating content.

It has worked amazingly well.

In a similar spirit, Unfogged suggests the following community project:

So it occurred to me that in a more perfect world, many, if not most, poems would end with “Fuck you, clown.” For example…

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
Fuck you, clown!
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Fuck you, clown!
“Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Fuck you, clown.”
so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

fuck you

I find it works particularly well with the Mad Lady Poets, such as Emily Dickinson:

In the Parcel – Be the Merchant
Of the Heavenly Grace –
But reduce no Human Spirit
To Disgrace of Price –
Fuck you, Clown!

Anne Sexton:

What a lay me down this is
with two pink, two orange,
two green, two white goodnights.
Now I’m borrowed.
Now I’m numb.
Fuck you, clown.

And, of course, Sylvia Plath:

There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.
Fuck you, clown.

Mad props to Bitch Ph.D. for the link.

8 thoughts on “The “Fuck You, Clown” Poetry Initiative.

  1. I have a dear friend who tells “stories” in a manner different than you mother’s, but equally crazy-making. To wit:

    “I can’t get over the news!”
    “What news?”
    “The cops finally caught that guy.”
    “What guy?”
    “The guy who robbed that place.”
    “What place?”
    “The new bank near the school.”
    “What school?”
    “The school near that furniture store.”

    Etcetera, ad infinitum.

  2. 1) Your mother and mine went to the same storytelling academy.

    2) This is the most brilliant poetic trope I’ve heard in…well, maybe ever. Let’s take a look at the end of sonnet 130:
    And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
    As any she belied with false compare.
    Fuck you, clown.

    And a peek at E.B. Browning:
    I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
    With my lost saints–I love thee with the breath,
    Smiles, tears, of all my life!–and, if God choose,
    I shall but love thee better after death.
    Fuck you, clown.

    Bless you. My life has been changed.

  3. Rolf!!!!

    OMG We have the same mother! Mine rambles on and on and never gets to a point. She starts on one topic and moves smoothly to a completely unrelated topic with no noticable gap or breathe. I take no notice and just grnt at her, but David is driven insane and trys to actually follow the thread. I should use you sister’s technique, or the poem one…..:D

  4. My mom does the same thing. It was so bad once that my Dad interrupted her to ask what the point of her story about all the meals they had on a school field trip was.

    We like to punctuate barroom conversations with “And then his pants exploded!”

  5. Or Sarah Teasdale:
    When I am dead,
    And over me bright April
    Shakes out her rain-drenched hair.

    Though you should kneel
    Above me, broken-hearted,
    Fuck you, clown.

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