“Worst Things First” by Mark Bibbins


Here is a link to today’s poem on Poets.org, “Worst Things First” by Mark Bibbins:



            I think this poem’s main statement is “life sucks.”  The speaker makes this clear by saying how all the goodness in his life feels pointless and unreal, how the demon within him is pitying him and feeling confined, and how everything that used to bring him pleasure, including the less than positive things like strip teases and nude beaches, aren’t working anymore.

            The part about all the goodness in his life feeling pointless and unreal is expressed with the lines “A bag of thank-you notes fell on me and that was enough/art for one day.  Culturally speaking,/it was more like a year/in the floral trenches, kicked off/with a single boneless kiss.”  To paraphrase these lines, the kisses and thank-yous he receives make him feel like he’s in a trench, which is dreadful in spite of, or perhaps because of, all the flowers.

            The part about his inner demon pitying him and being confined is expressed with the lines “Poor sad demon in his poor dead tree/or is it he who pities me,” and “the dimensions of his confinement.”  The part about how all the things that used to bring him pleasure don’t work anymore is expressed in the lines “My prize is a set/ of teeth, striptease at the nude beach,/audio files of decomposing stars/telling me, if they’re telling me anything, that theory’s just another word/for nothing left to like.”


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