I Stole a Poetry Book (and Never Did Anything Good With It)

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I have this copy of a book called “The Practice of Poetry.” It was first published in 1992, but mine is “A QUILL/HARPERRESOURCE edition” that was published in 2001. I am not sure how I got my hands on it but at this point I’m 100% sure I stole it. However, this being the case, I would have done so back around 2001 to early 2002, so the statute of limitations is up. That being said, I’m not sure exactly how I stole it. I think I borrowed it when working on a project and never returned it. I doubt I broke into the place that held it late and night, sneaking into the small writing room, and selected the book specifically for my needs. Then again, one never knows about these things. Maybe I slept-stole it.

I should take a few steps back. So these days, in 2019, there is a building called the Bitteroot College. Once upon a time, it was a “junior high school” which catered to kids in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. Then it was abandoned by the school district and rented out by various groups. One of those groups was “Kids First” which got grant funding through AmeriCorp and which I spent time assisting. There was a focus on computer literacy, but there was also a youth outreach and they had their first “Poetry Slam” which was something I had never seen before and sadly may never see again. One of the many projects that the various groups working on the project had a “writer’s room” where teenagers and young adults could gather, write, and share ideas. It was a novel idea for its time, but it didn’t last in part because it wasn’t curated which meant people were stealing books from it all the time. I’m not sure what sort of-

Oh wait.

I’m very certain it wasn’t intentional that I had this book. In fact, I’m pretty sure I accidentally packed it along with my poems and notes when I moved from Hamilton to Butte. But the fact of the matter is I still have the book 18 years later and yet I’ve done exactly nothing with it since it was taken. Somewhat disappointing.

Incidentally, it looks like I can’t return the book. The group that I took it from doesn’t appear to exist anymore. It looks like they haven’t for a while. A Google search shows they moved from Hamilton to Victor and then… just faded away, I’m assuming. I’ll check, but I’m reasonably sure I didn’t accidentally pack them and bring them with me. That would be awkward, and possibly involve crimes that were still within that window of prosecutability.

For a time when I was in Hamilton, I worked on some poems. Between a window of 1999 and 2002, based on what I can find, I wrote a total of 17 poems. I kid you not, every last one of them without exception is completely god awful. I found where I had them saved and read through them. They are often very forced, and I don’t know what I was hoping to summon in the minds of readers with the words and phrasing I used but I guarantee you it wasn’t the headache this prose did.

Every last one of them without question absolutely pains me for various reasons. No, seriously.

The Cult of Kitsune

I’ve dated angels

of ancient lore

and sexed succubi

’til they made me sore

Yet no event haunts me

like that fateful day

That my heart joined

the cult of Kitsune.

It was an elite cult

and members were few

but I was certian

that if faith was true

and I persisted

my words could sway

the heart of the one

known only as Kitsune.

Yet my faith and my will

well not strong enough.

My soul was too pure,

and I just could not bluff

My way to the prize.

Her friends stole her away;

Logic and joy are forsaken

in the cult of Kitsune.

Love is forbidden.

Caring is too,

Unless, of course,

all you think about is you.

Lie, steal, cheat,

and prepare to betray.

All is fair to those

in the cult of Kitsune.

Should you desire a goddess

with a self-serving air,

who can stifle your insolence

with a swift, spiteful glare,

who will forget you and

not care what you say,

Consider joining

the cult of Kitsune.

If your past is unpleasant

and you just need a friend,

Or, failing that,

Just desire your life to end,

No need to fret, merely

throw your name away,

don a mask and join

The cult of Kitsune.

If unobtainable dreams

tear you apart

And you don’t mind needles

piercing your heart,

Or you do mind, but are desperate

to be a slave anyway,

Then sell your soul to

the Cult of Kitsune.

You won’t find compassion,

dreams are for naught,

And if you love elsewhere,

you’d best not be caught.

Life is a never-ending,

terrible fray

And hope is for fools.

So says the cult of Kitsune.

Do not ask me what e-rpg insanity inspired this because I couldn’t tell you. To my knowledge, at the time I wrote this I was still reasonably inexperienced in having sex, with otherworldly entities or otherwise. And the flow here is… well, it’s lacking. It’s weak in some ways. The whole thing reads really cringe to me now.

But hey, it’s a thing I wrote, which is more than I’ve been doing recently let me tell you.

That’s the biggest crime here, in my opinion. It’s not that I accidentally stole this book (which Amazon informs me is on, I kid you not, it’s 59,746th Edition. How?) It’s not that my possession of it kept it out of the hands of someone who may have better benefited from it. It’s the fact that, nearly 2 decades later, I have done almost nothing with it. The pages are yellow, there’s a little bit of a water stain in a corner, but the book is still surprisingly intact.

In some sort of fairness, some of the exercises in the book were written for group participation. It wouldn’t surprise me if this book were used in actual writing groups and perhaps even a college class specifically because of how the challenges and chapters are written. But this isn’t all of them, and one would think at some point in my life I’d have written something more than the occasional haiku or limerick.

To set things right, I’m going to find a better owner for this book. Might place it in one of those Little Free Libraries that are in town. I doubt in its used condition I can give it to a library proper. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.

But first? I’m going to make sure this December, the last month of 2019, I make it a point to do at least three of the exercises in this book, and write at least one new poem I can share. Best case scenario, I have a new horrific piece of work I can share with my grandchildren in 20 years, when they’re going through my lockbox trying to find my will so they can determine who gets all of my likely accrued debt. Worst case scenario… well, I’m not sure what that could be. Something awful, I’m sure.

I need to be more productive, and I also need to be willing to take more risks. Perhaps one of the things I can do to try to be more happy and feel like I’ve got more control of things is to confront this one puzzle in front of me, this one book.

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