Julio Noboa Polanco's "Identity"

Updated on December 1, 2018
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Poetry became my passion, after I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962.

Tall Stink Weed

Source

Introduction and Text of "Identity"

Julio Noboa Polanco's piece of doggerel, titled "Identity," has become an Internet favorite. It is the kind of acrid 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 in pieces litter the Internet masquerading as "poetry."

Unlike all the misguided souls that choose to live a disciplined life, this speaker proudly announces that he prefers to remain a rowdy rebel. Thus, the immature speaker unfortunately chooses to compare himself and his compatriots to plants. This choice demonstrates lack of skill not only in poetry writing but in the ability to choose appropriate logical analogies.

A perverted kind of appropriateness is float in the fact that the versagraphs remain uneven in the pretend poem. Thus technical skill as well as creative content 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"

Commentary

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 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 doggerelist 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 takes wings and fly away as the eagle definitely will.

Second Movement: The Curse of Postmod Giggerish

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" will likely 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." What a crock! The striving to sound profound, imaginative, and spiritual remains nothing more than a reaching, overarching blob of nonsense.

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 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 ugly, tall, stinky week has 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. This speaker is confused and is offering readers only a conglomeration of tommyrot.

Of course, everyone prefers to live as some being that possesses strength and freedom. Thus, his instinct for freedom is well-grounded and even admirable, but unfortunately the execution of this poem remains a disaster. Let's hope this would-be poet continues to read and practice, and perhaps someday he will offer his readers a piece about freedom that they can admire.

Eagle

Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

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