Line-A-Day Club Poem, July 2023

Mediocrity rules everything around us
reaching far and high, never meant to be
any more than it was, a rusted dime on the sidewalk,
withering away in the cold, dead winds
understanding what I still could not
dry crunch of leaves in my mouth like ash
all I believed was gone in a flash
“What a Wonderful World” on repeat
I stashed my cigarettes in the trash
so trash-stashed, through pyramids of ash, they began to glow
Tiny rabbit eyes, they glow, then light upon the fuel they need and grow – a flicker first but then
a wink becomes a stare, becomes a smouldering glare
A spark like fire on train tracks
the fizz of rain, dark outline of our longing
looming behind the primordial horizon
what gives?
A wavering light that sweeps over the broken fence
A finger-flick of wind, the careless shape of leaf litter
in a day or two, we’ll all wonder
how long we have been here, how long we have to go
for now, it’s coming on midnight & the band is winding down
the trumpeter rolls a cigarette, inhales deep and slow
says, I want to go home, to go home now
as if he knew where that was
and stands and walks away into the darkness
like a flower un-blooming, enveloping the bee
dumb creature, bewitched by tentacular fragrances
the balloon bursts unbidden
and out splash a million lost promises, silver in the sun
glistening like false hope and
the lobbies of faulty grand hotels
gilt flaking, glass crackling, smiles like elevator cables strained
who would have thought I would meet you here?
so far from Wilshire so close to
the end of the line, every line, all at once, the great ending
then bending like the pin in my grandmother’s war-time hair style
And then unfurling like the line running down the back of her thigh, her calf, her heel
steam rises from the gooseneck kettle
Clouds form and reform, barely lit by the rising sun
Dawn solidifies, freshet flowing into day
where already the long grass trembles
and the hollyhocks bow their heads, weighed by sun
and found lacking.
Because they lack the necessary testosterone to get rose.
And only stay where they are planted.
Smack dab in the butterfish bin, sustainably managed
Into a sessile, stinking, composting world
The pungent aroma was matched.
Razor sharp, tiger tang – smoke screen, whisker thin.

Analysis of the poem by ChatGPT 3.5

In this enigmatic poem, the author delves into the theme of mediocrity, using vivid imagery and disjointed phrases to create a sense of disarray and contemplation. The poem explores the pervasive influence of mediocrity, both in the external world and the inner emotional landscape.

The opening lines, “Mediocrity rules everything around us / reaching far and high, never meant to be,” immediately establish the central motif. This repetition and emphasis on mediocrity hint at a sense of resignation, as if the speaker believes that life is destined to be unremarkable and ordinary.

The image of a “rusted dime on the sidewalk” further exemplifies this concept, symbolizing the decline of value and worth over time. The reference to “withering away in the cold, dead winds” reinforces a feeling of stagnation and decay. The juxtaposition of the speaker’s inability to understand against the dry crunch of leaves in their mouth like ash highlights the struggle to grasp life’s complexities and meaning amidst the mundane.

The phrase “What a Wonderful World” on repeat reflects a bitter irony, suggesting that even a song meant to celebrate beauty and joy can become monotonous and lose its charm. The act of stashing cigarettes in the trash embodies a desire to discard harmful habits and embrace change, but the reference to “trash-stashed” implies that this transformation may not be entirely successful and could lead to unintended consequences.

The imagery of “Tiny rabbit eyes” glowing amidst ash conveys a sense of vulnerability and fragility in the face of destructive forces. The lines “A spark like fire on train tracks / the fizz of rain, dark outline of our longing” evoke a mix of danger and longing, as if the desire for something more significant is met with the unpredictability of life.

The poem also touches on themes of loss and departure. The trumpeter’s desire to go home, without knowing where home truly is, signifies a yearning for a sense of belonging that remains elusive. The “balloon bursts unbidden” is an evocative metaphor for shattered dreams and broken promises, resonating with images of faulty grand hotels and the flaking gilt, symbolizing the deterioration of once glamorous façades.

The reference to the grandmother’s war-time hairstyle and her physical form unravelling suggests the passage of time and the transient nature of existence. The steam rising from the gooseneck kettle and the formation of clouds signal the progression of time, culminating in the dawn and the arrival of a new day.

Towards the end, the poem introduces a peculiar turn with the mention of “long grass trembles” and “hollyhocks bow their heads.” This imagery implies an acceptance of one’s limitations and shortcomings, akin to the hollyhocks “weighed by sun and found lacking.” The allusion to “necessary testosterone” and being “planted” could indicate societal expectations and confinement, drawing attention to issues of gender roles and cultural norms.

The closing lines, “Smack dab in the butterfish bin, sustainably managed / Into a sessile, stinking, composting world / The pungent aroma was matched. / Razor sharp, tiger tang – smoke screen, whisker thin,” provoke a strong sensory experience that contrasts the natural and the artificial. The imagery here might emphasize the inevitable blending of human existence with the mundane and often undesirable aspects of life.

Overall, the poem utilizes disjointed phrases and surreal imagery to explore the complexities of life and the pervasive nature of mediocrity. It delves into themes of transience, longing, and the struggle to find meaning and fulfillment in a world that can sometimes feel stifling and lackluster. The author skillfully crafts a tapestry of emotions and perceptions that leave the reader pondering the many facets of human existence and the ever-present allure of something beyond the ordinary.