The Terrible Poem Breakdown series looks at terrible poems written by earnest but talentless poets. The only criteria is that the poems cannot be willfully bad and that the poets must be eager to have their poems critiqued.
The usual disclaimer: I am not a poet or a critic of poetry, and I am not qualified to comment on any of the poem’s formal qualities. I read only for content and the effect the poem has on me, as a reader. Off we go!
The doorbell rings
A basket of flowers on the step
Outside, the neighbor boy runs up the street:
The thrill of anonymity
I wouldn’t call this one terrible! One of the better ones of the lot. In fact, I’m not so sure why this one’s even a candidate, unless the poet things it’s not significant enough to be terrible. But if it’s too insignificant to be poetry, then so is most haiku. (And I love haiku, so that can’t be right, or if it is right then I don’t care.)
Look, maybe it’s the last word – anonymity? Does that clang a little? Too Latinate for the rest of the poem?
Or maybe it’s the undeniable Norman Rockwellishness: a little boy, a neighborhood, a basket of flowers, the innocence of thinking he’s anonymous when he’s spotted and recognized. Very easy to picture that in Norman Rockwell figures.
In any case, I’m going to say I don’t hate this one, or at least the terrible doesn’t jump out at me. I hope the poet is happy for ruining my series!
My thanks to the author for being a good sport etc. etc.