In the old romance movies, women could not make up their minds in love, and the gallant men who loved them carried on calmly until they did. Chaos was a female weakness to be overcome by male sacrifice and stoicism.

Today, we laugh at this old notion, and think more along the lines that chaos or indecision lies more with the male gender, and, secondly, all kinds of chaos in general is actually the true way of things.

Romance movies haven’t changed that much, romance being what it is.

But a lot of people will still say that chaos is life, not art.  A chaotic poem is boring, even though chaotic life may be thrilling.

The poets, however, like most intellectuals, are not really worried about chaos.  Chaos is now kind of cool. The intellectuals have accepted it.

What is not cool in the eyes of the poets and the intellectuals is modern life’s unthinking bad taste.  Intellectuals are consumed with how much society sucks.

Chaos?  Death?  Who cares about that.  The real tragedy of life?  Fast food.

We see these ideas expressed in this Round One West Bracket contest between the poets Kevin Young and Meredith Hasemann.

I want to be doused in cheese and fried.

Kevin Young is having great fun here, and the line is delightful. And behind it all, we hear the criticism of the “fast food” way of life, as if a McDonald’s cheeseburger was, in fact, the end of civilization.

Hasemann complains similarly.  The ways and manners and devices of mankind encroach upon the freedom of nature:

The female cuckoo bird does not settle down with a mate. Now we make her come out of a clock.

So we want the female to be free.

To eat men.

Fried in cheese.

This should be an interesting contest.






  1. Anonymous said,

    March 31, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Chaos is the very basis of the tranquil, the serene. It lurks beneath. And perhaps Art is born out of the chaotic turbulence of the artist. “And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. ” Genesis 1:?

    Love your essay, Thomas.😊

  2. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 31, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Long live Kevin Young. Impossible not to like that line. And he should get a free pass to every State Fair in the country.

  3. Ric Couchman said,

    March 31, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Oops! That is my response above. Forgot to include my info.

  4. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 31, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Men have been calling women “cukoo” since forever. But the opposite is also true. No matter who calls who what we are all subject to Time. Arguing over who’s the craziest seems a waste of it. I do like cukoo clocks and cukoo birds in and of themselves. I want to see them hand painted, inset with mother of pearl sun, moon and stars. A folkloric, fairy tale image. It grieves me to see them drawn into the stupid, interminable cat/dog fight of male and female. Sick of it I am. The whole thing. Be happy you are all alive for God’s sake and rejoice. Please.

  5. noochinator said,

    March 31, 2016 at 6:13 pm


    Tuck a severed thumb into a moist paper towel
    and place it in a plastic bag on the window sill
    to sprout. Hydroponic tomatoes don’t taste

    as good as the ones on a vine. It’s a completely
    controlled environment that has nothing
    to do with authenticity. He made me a promise

    at our shotgun wedding. He would take my thumbs
    if I ever slept with another man. If you’re on the train
    to Cleveland, it’s okay to get off at a whistle stop

    but if you don’t have a ticket, you have to say so.
    Just say what you mean. I just couldn’t say I didn’t love
    him. In the little flash of a threat when you know

    you’re going to get hurt, you have to live up to it
    one way or another. It’s about listening, but the ear
    is one of the weakest muscles in the body. Ten years

    after the promise, I slit my hand open on a bottle of wine
    over a steak dinner with a man I thought I could love.
    The female cuckoo bird does not settle down with a mate.

    Now we make her come out of a clock. I sound
    like a local when I give directions. I’m getting
    the hang of it. If you have no ticket, say it.

    It’s about knowing where you want to put the stone
    in the wall. You might need to cut that up for me,
    since I have no thumbs. When he met the man I

    really could love, he mentioned the promise.
    It’s difficult to go back to the land of the paved
    road. Once the thumb-sprouts root, plant them.

    When they sex themselves, you have to split them
    so they don’t contaminate each other.

    Meredith Hasemann

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      March 31, 2016 at 6:30 pm

      Rancid poem. Way past due date. And that’s being kind because it was never good in the first place. Poet has poetic gifts but this poem is just bile spewed up. I’m sick to death of this school of poetry. I pray all the poets practicing in it can be freed.

  6. noochinator said,

    April 1, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Ode to the Midwest

    The country I come from
    Is called the Midwest
    —Bob Dylan

    I want to be doused
    in cheese

    & fried. I want
    to wander

    the aisles, my heart’s
    supermarket stocked high

    as cholesterol. I want to die
    wearing a sweatsuit—

    I want to live
    forever in a Christmas sweater,

    a teddy bear nursing
    off the front. I want to write

    a check in the express lane.
    I want to scrape

    my driveway clean

    myself, early, before
    anyone’s awake—

    that’ll put em to shame—
    I want to see what the sun

    sees before it tells
    the snow to go. I want to be

    the only black person I know.

    I want to throw
    out my back & not

    complain about it.
    I wanta drive

    two blocks. Why walk—

    I want love, n stuff—

    I want to cut
    my sutures myself.

    I want to jog
    down to the river

    & make it my bed—

    I want to walk
    its muddy banks

    & make me a withdrawal.

    I tried jumping in,
    found it frozen—

    I’ll go home, I guess,
    to my rooms where the moon

    changes & shines
    like television.

    Kevin Young

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