How to Be Better by Being Worse

By Justin Jannise
Feature image: The Kiss, 1895 by Edvard Munch

Ban soap. Banish suds.
Sweep the dormitory clean
of polish. Let dust do
what dust does with no opinion

from feathers.
Invite musk. Be clothed
in scandal. Smear
and smudge and slander yourself

courageous. Fuck
courage. Stick your finger
in its wet mouth and kiss
its salty neck. Slip in

as many chickenshit deeds
as any deadbeat dad
ever did. Forget
birthdays. Ruin Christmas.

Run people over
in conversation. Let them finish
not one sentence.
Let them sit with their own nonsense

for a second. Leave them
tongue-tied and pent up
with unexpressed vexation.
Get off the pleasant train to nowhere.

Get back on with your most
regrettable self. Someone
will love you. Someone will still fall
madly in front of you.


Justin Jannise is the author of “How to Be Better by Being Worse,” which won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from BOA Editions, Ltd., in April 2021.

Twitter: @jus10jay

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