Good Person


the thing about all the things I like
doing is I don’t enjoy doing them

most of the time and that’s the thing
about me: I like doing things but 

I also don’t like like doing them
and maybe the problem is I just don’t

like doing, doing is the problem
I prefer to make the noise, doing

to just doing around my room, I prefer
my room but not to do anything in my room

except It, sometimes I like to do It
in my room, but only if the room is right

for the doing of It, only if the light is
on and off in the right quantities and qualities

which is a quality about me I can quantify:
I am 90% interested in liking my life 

but only 10% interested in doing things
that would make me enjoy it, like turning

off and on the different lights, I am also not
interested in not doing, not doing is also bad

I would never not do something unless
that something were a bad thing

to do, and I know what all the bad things
are to do and that is why I never do them

I know that to not do is also a bad thing
to do in many cases, it is an ability 

that I particularly have to not do
something and so instead in those cases

of course I do, I ran in front of a car!
the car sped up when it saw me so

I ran faster in the same direction
I don’t know if that was the right thing 

to do but it was one of the two options
I had available in that moment

the other being of course transposing
my body into a launchpad for carnage 

I am always running and I don’t enjoy
running at all but I do it anyway

sometimes because you gotta do
what you gotta do, and sometimes

I just watch things happen, I like to
watch things happen and then I like to 

think about them, but then I think
I am not doing anything and I am 

supposed to be doing something so
I sometimes write about the thing

 I saw which is not the same as doing
something necessarily, I am not writing

a strongly worded letter, which debatably
would be doing or not doing something

depending on who you asked
sometimes I don’t know what it means 

to do, some people write books
which can be doing or just doo 

doo depending on the book and
some people run and some people drive 

cars and some people like stuff
like that, like cars, some people like

that a whole lot and I think if I liked
cars then I would like life a little bit

more sometimes I think that
if I liked sports a little bit more 

maybe I would have a different quality
of life and all the things I like to do 

I do until I don’t like them anymore
and then I have to find something new 

to do that makes me like my life
and makes other people like to have me 

be in their life and I try to do that
I really do and that is what makes me 

a good person





Smart Poem


I keep meaning to write a poem about something really smart. Some piece of wisdom that’ll stick with my readers for a long time. When they go to bed they’ll still be thinking about it, and in their dreams they’ll think about it too; it’ll shape the dream and their whole week, as well. As they go about their daily tasks, putting food in their mouths, and typing information into their computers or phones or tablets or whatever, all the while they’ll be thinking about the really potent moment described in my smart poem. People will be forever changed by the poem, and many will reference it as an inflection point in their lives, a time that changed the trajectory of their actions for perpetuity. They will teach the smart poem in schools, mostly at the college level, though some particularly advanced students may be assigned it in honors courses in high schools, and despite it becoming canon, people will still agree that there is real wisdom contained in it, and that more meaning is there to be plumbed the more it’s studied, and the more schools of theory there are that arise and take prominence and inevitably descend into obsolescence. It will be read at weddings, at funerals, at graduations, and at reunions. But at that point, even though the cool poets will agree, in the privacy of their communal kitchens, that the poem is really smart, and enduringly fresh, and innovative, especially for its time—indeed, the prescience of the poem will be particularly noteworthy, undeniably—it will become a faux pas to admit publicly to liking the smart poem, because it will be, at that point a complete cliché. And then there will be hundreds of memes, thousands of memes, hundreds of thousands of memes about the poem, and it will inspire many other poets to write real works of art of their own, which will go on to shape the course of poetry in turn, and the smart poem will continue to be cited as the originator of many splinters of schools that follow it. However at that point the poem will no longer exist as a poem in its own right, rather it will be an idea of a poem, the concept of wisdom, it will stand in for a model of what poetry can accomplish, and will thereby no longer achieve real affective intellectual and emotional change on the part of its readers. And more and more people will turn away from the poem, and begin to question, really, if it is any good after all, and once that seed of doubt has sprouted, people  will turn from it in droves, and one literary critic for a prominent newspaper will write a really scathing take down of the poem, arguing that it was never that smart to begin with, and their rhetorical reasoning will be so skillful that everyone reading the essay will be thoroughly convinced and wonder how they ever were deluded into thinking the poem said something wise or poignant or insightful about their existence. And people will begin to make fun of the poem, as well as its champions, the theorists who built their whole careers on connecting the poem to various aspects of culture and letters and modes of being in the world, and their names will be rubbed through the dirt, and people will think how much wiser they are than the stupid people from the past who were so simple to think this poem said anything great about anything. And they will applaud themselves for being that much more discerning than the poets and academics and critics past, and for instead championing a different, very important and moving and smart poem, that will say something different about the human condition, or whatever, and the cycle will continue forever and ever so long as people continue to write poems. But I don’t really want all that to happen, so instead, I will persist in writing small stupid poems, in the hope that no one will ever believe that I have said anything particularly moving or poignant or wise or insightful about the human condition, or anything in any way smart about anything, and thus I will continue on in obscurity and no one will care too much about my work one way or the other, unless maybe after I die someone will discover my work but not make such a huge deal about it so that I don’t have to be remembered as a failure in some major way. But even if I am it’ll be cool, ultimately, whatever happens—if people think me a failure, or a prophet, or overhyped, or underappreciated, or a product of my time, or an example of a particular school of thought, or an example of a poet with some particular circumstance, like some health issue, or some relationship to my parents, or something about my gender or sexuality or some intersection thereof, or a good tool to use to make a particular argument for a dissertation, or a book, or an anthology of poets doing some specific thing, or poets working in some specific time or place, or poets doing some specific thing in some specific time and place, or just a real poet’s poet, or a poet of the people, or not even a poet after all—because I won’t be around to hear it.




Juliet Gelfman-Randazzo is an MFA candidate at Rutgers University-Camden, where she has recently written about deer, hand models, and trees. She is the author of the poetry chapbook "DUH" (Bullshit Lit), and her work appears or is forthcoming in Passages North, Barrelhouse Magazine, Bedfellows Magazine, and Afternoon Visitor, among others. She can be followed @tall.spy (Instagram) and @tall__spy (Twitter) but she can never be caught.

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