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I Used to Be a Literature Major


by P.R. Mercado


I remember reading poetry in the library
when I was in college, after skipping
Sociology, Psychology, or Theology. 
I remember thinking: What is this nonsense?
I don't want to waste my time on any of this. 
These bore me. I don't feel it. 
I was promised that if I read this
I would feel something. Is something
wrong with me? Am I stupid?
In poetry class the day before I used
such big words, spoke about such
distinguished critics and writers. 
I referenced Greek terms, inclines,
referents, topologies, systems,
paradigms, philosophies, figures—
What now? Why can't I force myself
to feel anything after reading
the sonnets of Pablo Neruda, 
the verse of John Donne,
Rilke, Wordsworth, Lorca? 
I just want to go home and
masturbate to good pornography,
experience some actual ecstasy.
For the rest of my years I think
I will only pretend to understand
any or all of this. 
If they have been reciting these
to themselves and calling it poetry,
these ink-nosed idiots will believe anything.
I think tonight as I shower
I will read the back of the shampoo bottle
while waving my hands
and for the sake of my heart
try to shed some tears.
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