.

“Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing”
—Lines On Dreadful Instagram Poetry

A halitosis belch of steam
Spewed out in words. Ream after ream
Of cheese puff, air-stuffed offerings
Of child’s-art-in-thought-bubble things
We all have pondered, never wrote,
Because to waste the time to quote
Self-evident reality
Just champions banality.

Do not mistake this righteous rant
As envy of the ignorant.
I know why you do what you do—
Sometimes, I like a burger too!
But when that burger tastes like dirt
You make complaint, though risking hurt
(When calling spade a spade, aloud)
From missiles hurled by baying crowd

Who think all criticism cruel
The purview of the snobbish fool
Who’d understand, if he but could
Ignore the trees, adore the wood.
To worship what it represents
(Mere bonus points if it makes sense)
And elevate word-salad dribbling
Stream of random stanza’d scribbling

To the heights of the profound.
Empowered, he would come around!
Nevermore would he abscond
from the inch deep and mile wide pond
Where rules the self-love muse they follow
Though their words, when tapped, ring hollow
Faulty lightbulb, twee and trite,
That heats up, sure, but sheds no light.

I should not speak unless it’s nice—
Perhaps my ‘Likes’ will pay the price?
“Look down only if helping up”
And venerate the half-full cup.
I’ll get back on my spot, and smile
Perhaps I’ll like it, in a while?
Mistaking fireflies for stars
And smudge on lens for life on Mars.

.

.

S.A. Todd lives in the North-East of England, and fell in love with Tennyson as a child, igniting a love of classical poetry in him which persists to this day. A volume of his collected works—‘Deeds And Abstracts – A Poetry Collection’—is available on Amazon.


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24 Responses

  1. Shaun C. Duncan

    You had me from the opening line, but the whole piece is the perfect blend of poetic skill and scathing commentary that makes satire such a satisfying form both to read and write.

    And just when I thought contemporary poetry could not reach a lower ebb, I see the phrase “Instagram Poetry” and realise that as bad as we might think things are, they can always get much, much worse.

    Reply
    • S.A.Todd

      Thanks Shaun.

      Full disclosure – I’ve had, and continue to have, an Instagram presence for my writing. I’ve met some very nice people, some of whom display no small skill and flair in their imagery and expression, notwithstanding that their preference is something very freeform rather than structured. But, boy, the bad stuff – of which there is much and more- is the absolutely *worst* kind of face-clawingly awful tat that exists. It’s so bad that I wonder if it’s actually really good satire in disguise.

      If I were a cynical man, putting out a single picture with a hand-sketched flower on the corner that exhorts ‘I am empowered / like the sun and wind / fierce endless mother’ and ending up with multi-million pound book deals and speaking tours out of churning out hundreds of these a month, the defence could reasonably be that I well know it’s tripe but that I am ‘working the room’ and simply parting the fool from his money before someone else does it.

      If I were a cynical man… – Steve

      Reply
  2. Brian Yapko

    if there is a more
    dramatic opening line
    than ”a halitosis belch of
    steam” then i’m not
    aware of it. s.a. – this
    is such a fantastic poem
    which scores so many
    points and has so many
    memorable laughs,
    lines & truths (i’m reeling
    over that “baying crowd
    who think all criticism
    cruel”), that i deeply
    wish i had
    written it
    myself.

    Reply
    • S.A.Todd

      Thanks Brian, glad you liked it! Much like modern art, it’s such an embarrasingly ‘target rich environment’ for satire that it’s almost too easy.

      I consider the act of laughing out loud in public at the patently absurd both a pleasure and moral duty – if only to remind yourself and reassure others that the Emperor really *is* naked, despite so many folks gasping at the radiance of his fresh new haute couture! – Steve.

      Reply
  3. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    This magnificent poem is not only scathingly spot-on, but also hilarious and exceedingly well written. I’m with Brian on this one – I too wish I had written it myself. I particularly like, “Faulty lightbulb, twee and trite,/That heats up, sure, but sheds no light.” – original, inspirational, and all-in-all, a halitosis-belch-of-steam-free, spearmint-fresh marvel.

    Reply
    • S.A.Todd

      Many thanks Susan, pleased you enjoyed it.

      That lightbulb part you mention is one of my favourite little barbs of a piece veritably bristling with spikes! – Steve

      Reply
  4. Paul Freeman

    The Instagram poet shouts ‘Yikes!’
    each day when his readership spikes.
    Who cares that his ‘verse’
    is unsound and perverse
    as long as it racks up the likes.

    Reply
  5. S.A.Todd

    The thrill of the ‘Like’
    and its dopamine hit
    is the aim of the game –
    so who cares if it’s……….. not very good?

    – Steve

    Reply
    • S.A.Todd

      (That was a reply to you Paul, but I clearly neglected to hit the correct button…)

      Reply
      • Paul Freeman

        You hit the wrong button!? No ‘like’ for you, then!

  6. Cheryl Corey

    There’s a lot to like … no, love. “word-salad dribbling … stanza’d scribbling”; “twee and trite” (is that a British thing?). Well done!

    Reply
    • S.A.Todd

      Thanks Cheryl.

      Tea and crumpets would be a British thing maybe, but things that are twee and trite usually lurk in their thousands on Instapoetry feeds – excessive sentimentality, dull, overused and unoriginal thoughtblobs masquerading as the purest distallation of ‘My Truth’ (TM). – Steve

      Reply
  7. Yael

    This was an amusing read all the way to the end, where “Mistaking fireflies for stars
    And smudge on lens for life on Mars.”
    delivered the cherry on the top of this sugar cream puff of levity. Thanks for the entertainment!

    Reply
  8. C.B. Anderson

    This just might be, Steve, what formal poetry will look like in the post-Post-Modernist era.

    Reply
  9. Russel Winick

    Steve – I loved every line of this poem! It’s great in every way.

    Russel

    Reply
    • S.A.Todd

      Thanks for taking time out of your day to read it Russel, glad it hit the spot! – Steve

      Reply
  10. Jeff Eardley

    Fellow Englishman, this is so good, I have to keep re-reading. There are so many great lines. I love “word-salad dribbling,” “inch deep and mile wide pond,” and the superb final two lines. Thank you for this amazing piece of writing.

    Reply
    • S.A.Todd

      Much obliged for your kind words, Jeff. It seems to have struck a chord with quite a few folks, so “job’s a good ‘un” as they say! – Steve

      Reply
  11. Talbot

    Here’s a rupi kaur “poem” to illustrate just how dreadful it can be:
    __________________________
    love is not cruel

    we are cruel

    love is not a game

    we have made a game

    out of love
    ____________________________

    As S. A. Todd’s poem above states: mere bonus points if it makes sense.

    Reply
    • S.A.Todd

      This is a person who has sold over 10 million copies of her poetry books, which have been translated into 42 languages. Good luck to her from a business point of view, I guess.

      Regarding the translation point, it’d be intriguing to learn whether it’s equally as vapid and vacuous in, say, Mandarin or Hindi?

      It reminds me of another piece I wrote in tribute to this type of miniature trainwreck a while back (which is in my book ‘Deeds And Abstracts’ on Amazon, unashamed plug) :

      A ruby on a leaf
      ___________

      Your fierce empowered daughters
      must fly free in the
      sunshine of hope to
      follow
      their hearts

      But
      to just follow
      is not
      enough
      they must
      subscribe
      too

      erm

      master your
      rage or
      your
      rage will master you

      yes
      that’ll do
      #TruismIsTrue

      Reply
      • Talbot

        Yeah, undoubtedly she knows how to sell her stuff. She’s a savvy user of social media and the like. How much that’s worth outside her lifetime we’ll see, though her poetry doesn’t quite scream “timeless” to me (whatever that word ends up meaning poetically).

        Also, the bit about “they must subscribe too” made me chuckle.

  12. Joseph S. Salemi

    Kaur’s poetry is like a Hallmark Card on valium. In a drug-addled culture, no wonder she’s popular.

    Reply

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