[a rhythmic response to Kwame Dawes' post]

Shun the smart crowds. Instead, mix
With the dumbest you could find.
They will teach you much, in fact,
Just about everything. They’ll show
You how inadequate you really are.

Sneer at beauty, especially all
Manifestations of glamor. Never
Forget that time brings each ugliness
And that we’re all hideous, at the core.
(Coeur.) If you see unblemished skin,

Peel it. To nourish your atrophied
Sense of empathy, practice mercy
Fucking at each opportunity, and try

To do it sober. Don’t, like every other,
Identify and align yourself with power.
Try to stop bobbing your head for once.
Instead, become a grudging or cheerful
Tool of the most impotent and inarticulate.

Short of suicide, always situate yourself
In the wrong place, at the worst time. Be
Vulnerable. If you are “at home,” you are

Not trying hard enough. Avoid amusement
Parks, especially MFA writing programs.

Originally Published: April 13th, 2010

Linh Dinh was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1963, came to the U.S. in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two collections of stories, Fake House (Seven Stories Press 2000) and Blood and Soap (Seven Stories Press 2004), and the novel Love...