portion of the artwork for Michael Meyerhofer's poetry

Michael Meyerhofer’s Comments

Watch Dogs, 390 B.C.
This one came out of one of my many nerdy documentary binges. I was watching something on Rome and a passing line about the fate of unsuccessful guard dogs—and the grisly tradition that followed—really got my attention. I started thinking about how terrible it would be to see animals getting crucified and tormented like that, juxtaposed with the laughter and celebration of a festival. Then again, the juxtaposition of suffering and merriment is kind of a staple of history, unfortunately.

Marriage Proposal
A while back, I found myself in … well, one of those relationships. Looking back, it was silly and fraught with melodrama. At the time, though, I remember we’d gone away for the weekend and I was trying desperately to impress her—taking her to all the prettiest places I could find, reciting compliments, bad jokes, and odd facts in some doomed attempt to win her over. One night, I decided to try and write her [yet another] cheesy love poem but it kept coming out a tad sardonic (probably my subconscious coming through, letting me know I was a dumbass).

Coping Mechanism
This one is about a very different relationship from “Marriage Proposal.” We were together a long time and though there’s always plenty of blame to go around when a relationship ends, this one in particular left me absolutely devastated and lamenting every word and gesture that, being human, I’d failed to properly appreciate at the time.

If Couches Had Sphincters
I asked my friend Amber Shockley for a writing prompt and this is what she suggested as a joke. It’s strange because almost right away I found myself feeling sorry for … well, couches. That’s the thing about poetry, though. It’s not just about looking at things in a new way; you also need to build energy by developing some kind of contrast. Since the prompt and title were silly, I knew the poem wouldn’t amount to much more than a cheap laugh unless I got at something deeper and more tender. I think the couch probably ended up being a metaphor for all of us and our quest for love and approval, plus the mistakes (not just our own but those of someone we love) that we try to conceal.

Nothing Puckers into Nothing
Over the years, I’ve met a few creative writing teachers who suggested that the best way to become a writer was to visualize the future canon and ask yourself if what you were writing was really worthy of being included. Whenever I try to do that, though, I find my attention shifting away from the pages to the readers, who usually looked disinterested and abandoned. That, in turn, reminds me of how the high school version of me probably regarded poetry not as a tree or a bonfire or an exploding star but a big, cold, featureless wall I was supposed to climb. Sure, it takes practice to get poetry, same as anything else. But when you think about it, it’s pretty arrogant and absurd to even try and imagine what people will be reading next year, let alone next century. These days, whenever I catch myself wondering what advice I’d give to young readers of the future, I try to remind myself that they don’t really need me to tell them anything.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 56 | Fall/Winter 2020