I sent you eight poems;
each one took me five minutes to write.
Eight times five is forty.
That’s forty minutes of my precious time.
Suffice it to say that they were good;
in fact, they were bloody good.
Had you published them, I
would have been recognized; I
would have been invited to
every sherry party in Oxford.
I could have hobnobbed
with the cream of British academia,
most of whom are nobs;
I could have gorged myself
like a pig at these pointless parties
and listened intently to
the pontifications of stuck-up pricks.
But you turned down my submissions;
you said they were too difficult, above
the heads of your moronic readership;
you said they were too abstract,
that they needed more detail,
that they should be based
Well, I have news for you: I don’t have
and I loathe you
and your stinking, putrid,
positivistic, naively empiricist vision.
You empirical bastards.
A message from the author: This is a new genre of poetry called “Revenge Poetry,” invented by me and my student Sarah Skochko. The idea is that if someone is nasty to you in life, you respond by being nice to them. But when you get home, you write a “revenge” poem about them, and then you share it with people at a poetry reading or social gathering. The formal features of such poetry include the use of the word “pig,” allusions to food and overeating, a description of some thwarted ideal circumstance, and an ending with the formula “you bastard.” It has proven to be an extremely therapeutic exercise, with the ability to amuse large crowds, and its potential field of application is vast, ranging from personal matters through chance encounters with bureaucracy to satirizing the political and corporate figures who rule our lives.
M. A. R. ‘Rafey’ Habib is an Indian-born Muslim poet and scholar of literature who has also written numerous books of literary criticism. Habib grew up in England, gained his PhD from the University of Oxford. He currently teaches at Rutgers University-Camden in the United States and was previously a Professor of English at Kingston University, London. As a Muslim poet who felt bothered by militant extremism, and “the false image of Islam” perpetrated by terrorists, Habib has used his poetry to condemn terrorism.