the elk breaks up with me

Stop what you’re doing. Stop it right now. Okay. Now go read Patricia Lockwood’s hilarious essay, “Is It Work?” In addition to being an extremely talented poet, Lockwood is insanely hilarious (and also really good at twitter). But to the point: in this particular satirical essay, she argues that poetry is indeed work, even if the only sweating involved is “the weird thing that sometimes happens under your right arm because you haven’t lifted it up for 8 hours.” And she also pokes fun at several canonical poets, such as Elizabeth Bishop, who “only ever wrote one poem, a villanelle about an elk breaking up with her (“The Elk Breaks Up with Me”).” On that note, I realized that the internet needed this poem. Desperately. So I wrote it. 

(With endless apologies to Bishop, whose original poem, “One Art“, you should probably read)

The Elk Breaks Up with Me

Breaking up isn’t hard to master;
so many loves seem filled with the intent
to break that their break is no disaster.

Break a heart every day. Accept the fluster
of broken promises, the text badly sent.
Breaking up isn’t hard to master.

Then practice breaking farther, breaking faster:
engagements, marriages, who it was you meant
to call. None of these will bring disaster.

I broke my purity ring. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of friends with benefits went.
Breaking up isn’t hard to master.

I broke two romances, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some oaths I swore, two pacts, without lament.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even breaking up with you (the fuzzy nose, a feature
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
breaking up’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.


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