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Julio Noboa Polanco's "Identity" and Roo Borson’s "Talk"

Poetasters, dirty politicians, and other liars soil the cosmos. Exposing them remains in my toolkit. I read charlatans so you don't have to!

Julio Noboa Polanco

Julio Noboa Polanco

Introduction and Text of "Identity"

Julio Noboa Polanco's piece of doggerel, titled "Identity," has become an Internet favorite; unfortunately, this clumsy verse employs the use of hyperbole that results in nonsense.

The purpose of exaggeration is to emphasize the characteristic of some entity or event, not to pervert the subject into something it is not. For example, one’s thoughts may be hyperbolically expressed as soaring like an eagle.

But if one places those thoughts in the mind of a weed clinging to a cliff, the possibility of flight becomes impossible. That ludicrous comparison appears in the second versagraph of this poem: "I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed, / clinging on cliffs, like an eagle / wind-wavering above high, jagged rocks."

The theme of the piece centers on the very human and admirable desire for freedom and individuality. The speaker, therefore, is asserting that unlike all the misguided souls who choose to live a disciplined life, this speaker proudly announces that he prefers to remain a rowdy rebel.

But the speaker unfortunately chooses to compare himself and his compatriots to plants. The desire for freedom precludes the desire to be an entity that is rooted to ground.

A perverted kind of appropriateness is afloat in the fact that the versagraphs remain uneven in this pretend poem. Technical skill as well as logic are both severely lacking in the Internet sensation.

Identity

Let them be as flowers,
always watered, fed, guarded, admired,
but harnessed to a pot of dirt.

I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed,
clinging on cliffs, like an eagle
wind-wavering above high, jagged rocks.

To have broken through the surface of stone,
to live, to feel exposed to the madness
of the vast, eternal sky.
To be swayed by the breezes of an ancient sea,
carrying my soul, my seed,
beyond the mountains of time or into the abyss of the bizarre.

I'd rather be unseen, and if
then shunned by everyone,
than to be a pleasant-smelling flower,
growing in clusters in the fertile valley,
where they're praised, handled, and plucked
by greedy, human hands.

I'd rather smell of musty, green stench
than of sweet, fragrant lilac.
If I could stand alone, strong and free,
I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed.

Reading of "Identity"

Tall Stink Weed

Tall Stink Weed

Commentary on Julio Noboa Polanco's "Identity"

In Julio Noboa Polanco's "Identity," the expression of the heartfelt desire for freedom and individuality remains shrouded behind mixed metaphors and the inappropriate use of hyperbole.

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First Movement: Ludicrous Dichotomy and Mixed Metaphor

Let them be as flowers,
always watered, fed, guarded, admired,
but harnessed to a pot of dirt.

I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed,
clinging on cliffs, like an eagle
wind-wavering above high, jagged rocks.

The speaker concocts a perverted dichotomy between himself and his fellows, whom he identifies merely as "them." Leaving those others, "them," unidentified, however, the speaker takes as his task to castigate those who do not agree with his particular brand of freedom philosophy.

The speaker's opening lines mix a metaphor of flower and horse. Those other people, whom the speaker disdains, are like well-kept flowers in a flower pot, but he says they are "harnessed to a pot of dirt."

Horses are harnessed, not flowers. His mixed metaphor betrays the piece as nonsense. Mixed metaphors cannot communicate accurately, as the blending creates only confusion and disorder.

The first part of the dichotomy is the flower, and the second is a weed; thus, the speaker is trying to convince his readers that being a weed is better than being a flower.

He claims that he prefers to be a big ugly weed, and he likens that ugly weed, which also lives fastened to dirt just as the flower in a pot does, to an eagle.

The absence of logic here is breathtaking: eagles fly, plants do not! It matters not that the plant lives admired in a pot or grows out on the prairie unseen by anyone; neither will ever takes wings and fly away as the eagle definitely will. Again, a mixed metaphor, here expressed as a simile, has resulted in nothing but confusion.

Second Movement: The Curse of Postmod Gibberish

To have broken through the surface of stone,
to live, to feel exposed to the madness
of the vast, eternal sky.
To be swayed by the breezes of an ancient sea,
carrying my soul, my seed,
beyond the mountains of time or into the abyss of the bizarre.

The speaker then offers a series of infinitives, "to have broken," "to feel," "to live," and "to be swayed." The first infinitive describes the action of a saxifrage, a plant that has burst through some hard surface like concrete or "stone."

The speaker offers no context for such an action, which does not appropriately describe any action a human being might take.

But the speaker seems to think that breaking through that stony surface will allow him "to live." And apparently to him, living is being "exposed to the madness / of the vast eternal sky." Tell that to victims of tornadoes, hurricanes, and other severe, devastating storms that maim and kill. Far from allowing him to live, that "madness" could kill him instead.

In a vague, meaningless, and stupendously absurd claim, the speaker asserts that he would like his "soul" and his "seed" to be carried by the winds of "an ancient sea" to some "abyss of the bizarre" which apparently exists "beyond the mountains of time."

Again, the attempt at hyperbole remains nonsensical. If he is a weed, his seed may be carried far and wide by the wind. But trying to make the places where that seed might land into "an ancient sea" "beyond the mountains of time" creates a vagueness that remains unrealizable.

The "abyss of the bizarre" opens the hyperbolic sailing on the wind to the level of an absurd abstraction. The poetaster is obviously striving to sound profound but fails to even offer an image that can be perceived.

Third Movement: Confusion and Contradiction

I'd rather be unseen, and if
then shunned by everyone,
than to be a pleasant-smelling flower,
growing in clusters in the fertile valley,
where they're praised, handled, and plucked
by greedy, human hands.

There appears to be a structural error in the opening line in the movement. The "and if" seems to be dangling, offering no meaning and only confusing what the speaker is trying to say. Perhaps he means "or," but actually omitting the phrase might enhance meaning somewhat.

The speaker has already claimed he would prefer to be a weed growing wild and free than to be a plant in a pot. Now the speaker claims he would prefer to be invisible than to be a "pleasant-smelling flower" even if that flower is growing in a "fertile valley."

This claim throws a ridiculous contradiction into the mix. He preferred to a weed to a flower in a pot because the weed is out growing somewhere in nature. But now he's denigrating even flowers that grow wild.

Fourth Movement: A Stinky Weed

I'd rather smell of musty, green stench
than of sweet, fragrant lilac.
If I could stand alone, strong and free,
I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed.

The speaker has now returned to his desire to be a weed—and a stinky weed at that. He would prefer to stink and "stand alone" than to be a sweet smelling lilac. He fancies that those ugly, tall, stinky weeds have more freedom than sweet-smelling flowers that human beings enjoy.

The notion is ludicrous. A weed does not, in fact, possess more freedom, nor is it stronger, than a flower.

Of course, everyone prefers to live as a being who possesses strength and freedom. Thus, this would-be poet’s instinct for freedom is well-grounded and even admirable, but unfortunately his execution of this poem remains a hyperbolic disaster.

Eagle flying - Plants not flying

Eagle flying - Plants not flying

Roo Borson's "Talk"

Roo Borson's piece, "Talk," contrives four groups of people and attempts to dramatize the manner in which each group relates to the act of talking.

Roo Borson

Roo Borson

Introduction and Text of "Talk"

Revealing disdain for her fellow human beings, the speaker in Borson's piece, "Talk," invents four classifications, portrayed in four versagraphs, that defy reality as they unfairly stereotype and target the groups she is trying to describe.

This piece fixates primarily on portraying some groups as the oppressors and others as the oppressed; this postmodern genre has proliferated, producing an class of disaffected rhetoric exemplified by the ilk of Adrienne Rich, Robert Bly, Margaret Atwood, Eavan Boland, R. S. Gwynn, and many others.

While Borson remains one of the lesser known disgruntled poets, her poem, "Talk," suggests a mind-set that has prompted her to contrive unrealistic groups of talkers; thus, her piece remains unconvincing, and its flaws betray it as a failed poem.

Talk

The shops, the streets are full of old men
who can't think of a thing to say anymore.
Sometimes, looking at a girl, it
almost occurs to them, but they can't make it out,
they go pawing toward it through the fog.

The young men are still jostling shoulders
as they walk along, tussling at one another with words.
They're excited by talk, they can still see the danger.

The old women, thrifty with words,
haggling for oranges, their mouths
take bites out of the air. They know the value of oranges.
They had to learn everything
on their own.

The young women are the worst off, no one has bothered
to show them things.
You can see their minds on their faces,
they are like little lakes before a storm.
They don't know it's a confusion that makes them sad.
It's lucky in a way though, because the young men take
a look of confusion for inscrutability, and this
excites them and makes them want to own
this face they don't understand,
something to be tinkered with at their leisure.

Commentary on "Talk"

The speaker of this piece contrives four groups of people and then denigrates each group based on the act of talking.

First Versagraph: Losing the Power of Speech

The shops, the streets are full of old men
who can't think of a thing to say anymore.
Sometimes, looking at a girl, it
almost occurs to them, but they can't make it out,
they go pawing toward it through the fog.

The speaker is a superficial observer of social mores, reporting her conclusions using four groups of people and each group’s unique way of engaging in the act of conversation. She begins with the group called "old men"; she reports that these old men who fill the streets are simply incapable of thinking of anything to say anymore.

Perhaps because of dementia or simple exhaustion, these old fellows seem to have lost the power of speech as well as the power to think of something about which they could converse.

However, when they see a girl, they are almost motivated to say something, but alas, the words never come to mind as they go "pawing" through the brain fog of their diminished mind.

Second Versagraph: Razzing Replaces Words

The young men are still jostling shoulders
as they walk along, tussling at one another with words.
They're excited by talk, they can still see the danger.

The speaker then tackles her second group of "young men"; she professes as little respect for this group as she does her first group of old men. According to her, these young men "walk along" haughty and boisterous as they go "tussling at one another with words."

They are not actually communicating; they are merely razzing each other, probably engaging in a mental one-upmanship.

The speaker claims that this group is excited by talk. Unlike the old men who cannot even think of anything to say anymore, these young men "can still see the danger" in their conversing, and it rouses them. The speaker allows the reader to fill in the exact nature of the "danger" they perceive.

Third Versagraph: Scoping Their Victims

The old women, thrifty with words,
haggling for oranges, their mouths
take bites out of the air. They know the value of oranges.
They had to learn everything
on their own.

The speaker moves on to her third group, "old women." She exhibits her disdain for these old women by painting them as "haggl[ers] for oranges." She attempts a clever turn by claiming, "their mouths / take bites out of the air." This ugly image yields to the assertion that the old women, at least, know the value of oranges.

The speaker then clips logic by asserting that these old women have all remained self-taught, learning "everything / on their own." This claim sets the women apart from their social milieu: surely some of these women have learned something from their parents—especially from their mothers.

Fourth Versagraph: The Pathetic Fallacy Fail

The young women are the worst off, no one has bothered
to show them things.
You can see their minds on their faces,
they are like little lakes before a storm.
They don't know it's a confusion that makes them sad.
It's lucky in a way though, because the young men take
a look of confusion for inscrutability, and this
excites them and makes them want to own
this face they don't understand,
something to be tinkered with at their leisure.

Then finally, the speaker laments that of the four groups the "young women" have it the worst of all, because they—like the old women—have been taught nothing by their elders, that is, the young women have become victims because nobody has "bothered / to show them things."

It remains unclear how the young women actually differ from the older women in education because according to the speaker they have both suffered the same malady—not being educated by their elders.

And she elides being shown things with having to learn everything on their own, as though merely being shown stuff equates to acquiring knowledge and understanding.

Thus, these confused, undirected young women now put forth faces that resemble "little lakes before a storm." But such a lake would be calm, and a lake does not have the human ability to demonstrate confusion or contemplate sadness. The vacuousness of these lines renders them meaningless.

The pathetic fallacy in the hands of a master can work on certain levels of understanding, but this attempt falls flat.

Those young women are so stupid that they do not understand why they are sad, but the speaker knows they are sad because of confusion. The speaker, however, does not reveal what is causing that confusion; the reader is perhaps expected to equate the confusion with their never having been shown things.

The speaker then returns to the second group of young men, remarking that the confused sadness on the faces of the young women is good luck for the young men, who will be able to take advantage of these young ignorant females.

The men will never understand the women, but they will be excited by the women's stupidity and have endless fun tinkering with them, until these young toughs become like the first group of old men, who cannot think of anything to say, but vaguely remember through the fog in their brains that used to go about buggering young girls.

Sources

  • Roo Borson, "Talk," in The Norton Introduction to Poetry, Third Edition, J. Paul Hunter, ed., New York, 1986, print. Online "Talk."
  • Editors. "Pathetic Fallacy." Literary Devices: Definition and Examples of Literary Terms. Accessed August 18, 2021.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: What is the mood of the poem "Identity" by Julio Noboa Polanco?

Answer: The mood of Polanco's "Identity" is arrogance.

Question: What is the tone of Julio Noboa Polanco's poem "Identity"?

Answer: The tone of this piece of doggerel is adolescent arrogance.

Question: What is the theme of the poem "Identity"?

Answer: The theme of this piece is freedom.

Question: What is “ugly weed, / clinging on cliffs,” an example of in the poem "Identity" by Julio Noboa?

Answer: The lines, “ugly weed, / clinging on cliffs,” is a failed imagistic metaphor. The speaker concocts a perverted dichotomy between himself and his fellows, whom he identifies merely as "them." Leaving those others, "them," unidentified, however, the speaker takes as his task to castigate those who do not agree with his particular brand of philosophy.

The speaker's opening lines identify him immediately as a poetaster as he mixes a metaphor of flower and horse. Those other people, whom the speaker disdains, are like well-kept flowers in a flower pot, but he says they are "harnessed to a pot of dirt." Horses are harnessed, not flowers. His mixed metaphor may bring on a belly-laugh for which the doggerel is not striving.

The first leg, then, of the dichotomy is the flower, and the second is a weed. Thus the speaker is going to try to convince his readers that being a weed is better than being a flower. Thus he claims that he prefers to be a big ugly weed. And he likens that ugly weed, which also lives fastened to dirt just as the flower in a pot does, to an eagle. The absence of logic here is breathtaking: eagles fly, plants do not! It matters not that the plant lives admired in a pot or grows out on the prairie unseen by anyone; neither will ever take wing and fly away as the eagle definitely will.

Question: Explain why this poem by Julio Noboa Planco is a "pretend poem"?

Answer: Julio Noboa Polanco's piece of doggerel, titled "Identity," has become an Internet favorite. It is the kind of fraudulent verse that satisfies only readers whose interest in poetry remains one-dimensional and painfully immature. The only reason for a serious commentator of poetry to bother with such a piece is to offer readers an example of what not to appreciate or give much attention to in pieces that litter the Internet masquerading as "poetry." According to this speaker, unlike all the misguided souls that choose to live a disciplined life, he proudly announces that he prefers to remain a rowdy rebel. But the immature speaker, unfortunately, chooses to compare himself and his compatriots to plants. This choice demonstrates a lack of skill not only in poetry writing but in the ability to choose appropriate logical analogies. A perverted kind of appropriateness is afloat in the fact that the versagraphs remain uneven in the piece. Thus technical skill, as well as creative content, are both severely lacking in the Internet sensation. Give it a glance and move on!

Question: Has Julio Noboa Planco written any more poems?

Answer: Apparently, none that have made it into the cyber world as this one has done.

Question: What is the relationship between the central image and the title of Polanco’s poem?

Answer: The central image is a weed. The speaker claims he would prefer to be a weed, that is, to "identify" as a weed out growing in the wild rather than to be a well-cared-for plant in a pot. A breathtaking, faulty analogy: both the weed and the well-cared-for plant are rooted in the soil. They have the same level of freedom, which the speaker is trying to claim as his motive. The poem simply does not work.

Question: What is the TPCASTT of the poem "Identity" by Julio Noboa?

Answer: T: recognition (of self and/or others)

P: I’d rather be a wild weed than a nurtured flower.

C: None. (Doggerel has no sense of suggestion.)

A: Holier than thou.

S: None. (Doggerel remains shiftless.)

T: I am a poetaster; there is no poetry in me.

T: Attempted “freedom.” (But again doggerel cannot pose a serious theme.)

Question: How do you cite this poem?

Answer: I suggest following the MLA (Modern Language Association) guidelines.

Question: Why do you think the speaker of Polanco's "Identity" would rather be a weed?

Answer: Because he says, "I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed."

© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

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