Wednesday, August 16, 2017

“Please Please Me” by Eric McHenry, Guest Contest Judge

“Please Please Me”
Eric McHenry

I don’t love the Beatles. No one need
ever publish or anthologize
this poem now. To those who manage to read
this far into it, I apologize.
"Bug" Ink & Watercolor on Paper, by J. Artemus Gordon. 

My girlfriend has said, not knowing she’d
end up in a fifth line, “Them’s fightin’ words.”
I know. I know they gave me Alex Chilton,
who gave me the best of Big Star, through the Byrds.
I know their sound and am not ignorant of
their catalogue. I know it begins with “Love
Me Do” and takes a slow turn for the sallow,
maturing toward those white and mustard-yellow
albums everybody says are golden.

That’s why I’m confident no one will see
this stanza. By now I’ve lost even readers
of poetry, who love their losing battles,
but not quite as much as they love the Beatles.

I believe in the many primacies of taste,
and in doing nothing to dislodge its nest
from a dependable cleft in the soul’s one tree.
That’s really why I don’t love them: because
they make me feel like it’s only me,
which is so unlike what so much music does.

Poet’s Notes: I really do like the Beatles, a lot. “Here Comes the Sun” was our wedding processional. But I remember seeing a sentence about them in the Rolling Stone album guide — “Not liking them is as perverse as not liking the sun” — and being irritated. “Perverse”! It made me want to write a poem about feeling lonely and marginalized by taste-consensus. 

Editor’s Note:  I am not a big fan of the Beatles.  As far as I am concerned, the Beatles ruined rock n’ roll, taking it away from its honky-tonk, rockabilly roots.  “Please Please Me” was first published in Harvard Review.

Artist's Note:  This poem made me think of the "thought police" from 1984. Despite the negative subject matter of this illustration, I do enjoy the Beatles.


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