“One Day, He Defecated Himself”: Medical Poetry, Alcohol, and My College Experience

Inflammation of the foreskin
Reminds me of your smile
— Monty Python, “Medical Love Song”

Sent out a batch of four medically-themed poems about a quack doctor, two flavors of death, and a spiteful Last Will and Testament. The hardest part of the submission was having to write something about myself a little more personal than the conventionally skimpy cover letter of “I am author. Wrote stuff. Attached is thing.” My first dozen attempts were weepy little bios that weren’t nearly evocative enough without the accompanying mp3 recording of the world’s smallest violin. Yes, yes, my poems are sad, and coincidentally enough sad things happened in my own life. I was at risk of being mistaken for a teenage girl.

I don’t care if you have tenure. Either it’s those size nines or your pretentious aphorisms, but something smells like horseshit.

Then I realized that poetry is the dreaded phone call at four o’clock in the morning. “Hey, mom . . . I’m drunk, and I just wrote this poem . . . about feelings.” People drink so they don’t have to write poetry, but then the words fall into place while washing dishes. I worked out a bio that reflected how The Dead Poets Society was so very unlike my own college experiences with poetry. You see, online student reviews about the professor who most inspired me include gems like, “Rude, messy, vulgar, egotistical and disorganized” and “This guy is insane. One day he defecated himself.” Screw Robin Williams! That’s my real-life hero, the professor who inspired me most to write, and whom I admire to this very day . I have never received a higher accolade than his grade of “Fucking Awesome” on one of my papers.


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