The world is abuzz with rumors of a Poetry Banksy, an anonymous art idiot who runs around cities blowing up the status quo with his ideas. He defaces. He mutilates. He subverts. He smears ink on mayors. He paints verbal mustaches on the Mona Lisa. He sucks all the air out of Bill Clinton’s saxophone and uses it to quote poetry out loud.

He’s pranksy. He’s wanksy.

He’s Poetry Banksy, and here is a list of his crimes.

1. Spraypainted the word “daisy” on an actual daisy. Was that even necessary?

2. Moved a stone three inches to the left in a field. We heard his impish laugh as he ran away.

3. We’re hearing reports that Poetry Banksy has stenciled his own grandmother. Holy shit, what won’t he do.

4. Made a turd in the notebook aisle of Target. This could also have been a toddler, but we’re attributing it to Poetry Banksy for now.

5. He graffitied the slogan SONNETS ARE FASCISM on a highway overpass where even kids can see it.

6. Snuck into a pet store at night and put Seamus Heaney wigs on all the rats. That is NOT what I call respect.

7. He’s notorious for writing haiku with just as many freaking syllables as he wants. It’s anarchy.

8. Painted the word RUMINATE on the side of a cow and sold it for two million dollars. When Damien Hirst saw it, he was so jealous that he moaned.

9. A thug has vandalized Billy Collins. It can only be one guy.

10. Busted into a nursing home and did parkour off all the old people while reciting “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died.” Several old people expired voluntarily during this time.

11. Streaked through a poetry symposium at Harvard yelling, “FRENCH RAP IS GOOD!” Will he stop at nothing?

12. Poetry Banksy wrote this post.

I asked the police chief of America what he thought about the whole situation and he gave me the following quote. “Damn … Poetry Banksy. No one knows who he is, and no one cares. But still we’re gonna try to find his ass.” Then he leaned over to pick up a heavy box of donuts, and his shirt came untucked, revealing a tramp stamp that said simply,

“Poetry is a tattoo on a cop’s butt, where everyone but the cop can see it.”

-- William Wordsworth

I gasped. The irony was ultimate. Poetry Banksy, it seemed, had found him first.


Originally Published: April 24th, 2014

Patricia Lockwood’s poems have appeared in the New Yorker, the London Review of Books, Tin House, and Poetry. She is the author of a memoir, Priestdaddy (Riverhead Books, 2017), and two poetry collections. She lives in Savannah, Georgia.