Poetic License to Kill

It’s time for everybody’s favorite newspaper column, “Eric’s Poetry Corner,” where we discuss famous works of poetry and attempt to fill lots of space. Today, we are going to discuss the work of the great Alen Peacock, who has long been revered in poetic circles as the Guy Who Lived Across the Hall from Eric in the Dorms at College.

Alen is currently a missionary for the Mormon church in Uruguay (national motto: “Uru-WHERE?”), and he sent me this poem in a letter. I will reprint it here in its entirety. Watch for the recurring “rain” and “stuff” motifs.

“Raining on a Sunday”

Raining on a Sunday
yeah, yeah.
It’s raining and stuff.
It’s wet.
I don’t like to get too wet,
but sometimes —
just sometimes —
I like to take a walk
And eat some good stuff
And stuff
But I wouldn’t want to
go over there,
Because it ain’t got no stuff that I want
But I’ll get some anyway

Clearly, this is not the work of an ordinary human being. No sir or madam, this is the work of a human being who has been drinking the water in Uruguay for a little too long. Still, I think we can see the importance of a poem like this, because it shows how we, as people, are frail and weak, and it deals with the subject of man’s inhumanity to man, and it reminds us that some people will do virtually anything to get themselves mentioned in a newspaper column.

Another example of this is when I was in college, writing a column for a local paper there, and another guy in my dorm wanted to get himself written about. So he stripped down naked and ran up and down the halls in the dorm, hoping I would consider that noteworthy enough to mention it in my column. This was a men’s dorm, a place where guys running around naked is as commonplace as pizza stains on the walls, and yet this guy thought that it would be significant enough when he did it for me to write about it. Of course, he was right, but that is beside the point. I think. I can’t be sure, because I have lost track of what the point is. I’m fairly certain that was beside it, though.

Anyway, as long as we’re discussing poetry (THAT’S what the point was!), I feel I should bring up the work of the great Steve Miller, leader of the rock group The Steve Miller Band. One of that group’s biggest hits in the 1970s was a song called “The Joker,” which featured the following lyrics:

“Some people call me the Space Cowboy;
Some call me the Gangster of Love;
Some people call me Maurice [weird guitar noise goes here]
‘Cause I speak of the pompatous of love.”

This raises a number of interesting ethical questions. For instance, just because somebody speaks of the pompatous of love, is that a good reason to call them Maurice? I personally feel that, no matter what someone speaks of, you should never call them Maurice, especially if it’s their name, because I’m sure they don’t want to be reminded.

Next time in “Eric’s Poetry Corner”: Limericks.

(P.S.: What does “pompatous” mean, anyway?)

(Eric D. Snider is a college student currently living at home in Lake Elsinore. He doesn’t really know how to appreciate poetry, but he is quite proficient at making fun of it.)

When I lived in the dorms my freshman year at BYU, Steve Miller's greatest hits album was THE album for us. Anytime we played cards, which was approximately every single night, we would play that CD. It was the official CD of card-playing. We tried using other CDs now and then, only to have the cosmos turn against us, and the cards would burst into flames, or something. We LOVED that album. There were about six of us in my little circle of friends, and I think we each owned a copy.

In 1999, after this had been posted on the Internet for a while, someone forwarded me the URL for Cecil Adams' wonderful column "The Straight Dope," wherein he once answered the question "What does 'pompatous' mean?" You can read that column here. It's quite fascinating.