. How To Be Like Byron Bright butterfly, why do you fade Into that duller, browner shade That strays into the flame at night? You’ve lost your nature’s vibrant light And seek it in another source. For you, I’ll heartily endorse A colorful biography To help you live by, dogma-free. To satisfy your passion’s thirst One thing’s important, first things first: You need to drink a lot of wine. A human skull will do just fine To use as your libation cup— Then men won’t dare call you a ‘yup.’ A good skull’s hard to come by, true, But don’t let things like “laws” stop you. From bones where vital headstones mock us, Frame vessels for the blood of Bacchus. Second, take up the boxing sport, And solve your problems out of court By giving cads a bloody lip. Then learn the skill of marksmanship, So if you have to fight a duel You’re sure to kill the other fool. (But first get him to sign a waiver— The modern world just doesn’t savor Defending honor anymore. A gun will settle an old score More tidily than lawyers’ suits: Let undertakers fit disputes.) Next take up swimming lessons and Traverse vast waterways by hand. Lord Byron once went hellesponting, And though the salty smell is daunting, In this small world you’ll form close bonds By treating oceans like they’re ponds. In playing a Byronic actor, We can’t forget that famous factor (It is no superfluity): An itch for promiscuity! This mission to become debased, Though, follows rules of proper taste— Don’t prey on adolescent boys (A prison cell will bring no joys). Pass over pick-up lines to hook A woman—cast ‘the underlook.’ A life where so much sin is crammed Is honest when you think you’re damned. Say gloomy stuff like “man’s a devil,” And in your melancholy revel. Bad conduct, when low creeds agree, Avoids the term, ‘hypocrisy. But while you’re sinning, learn from novels: There’s Rochester—he never grovels. Onegin has great pistol aim. Cruel Heathcliff swaggers to acclaim. Ape Ahab for his hunting skill— All men need some white whale to kill. The 19th century is rife With antiheroes full of strife. Your reputation will, of course, Rest ultimately on the force Of your good poetry, if any, And hopefully it earns a penny. For, of this life, there’s one small glitch: It’s hard to live if you aren’t rich. So get some money and a castle— Stop being someone’s wage-slave vassal. Then soon your character will grow “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” . . Ardor and Atoms Pure hydrogen can only light the sun, But kindles not the candlewick undone. Plutonium will just destroy the earth, With little force upon my cosmic mirth. Gold shines a luster on an ugly form, Though Midas knew that beauty doesn’t warm. Lead poisons everything that comes too near— A cure for one who’d gladly disappear. Rich oxygen inspires the airy soul, But won’t balloon a buried heart of coal. A noble gas perfumes devotion’s slave Who cannot smell a solid thing to crave. The elements, for me, have but one use: To bear the chemistry of love’s abuse. . . Andrew Benson Brown was a graduate student at George Mason University before taking too many classes outside his discipline coincided with the reality of Debt. He now works as a children’s caseworker in rural Missouri. In his spare time he reads obscure classics, writes things of little market value, and exercises far more than is befitting for a modern intellectual.