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Poetry! Poetry! Poetry! by Peter Davis

As tweaked by...


Howard MillerNate LoganRita Dahl
Nicholas LiuJoanna Penn Cooper
Jeffrey HeckerJoe Cermak

Hitler's Mustache: Top 10 Rehabilative Reincarnations |
Howard Miller
after Hitler's Mustache


10. Pastry brush
9. Razor clam feeding filter
8. Tomato hornworm's winter coat
7. Hibachi grill scrubber
6. My Little Pony mane comb
5. Large poster-font hyphen
4. Snail speed breaker
3. Gecko's doormat
2. Hairshirt for a penitent sea squirt
1. Yugo skid mark



Poem Addressing People Who Like Narrative Poems Involving Epiphanies and Cute Stuff Presented in a Mildly Surrealistic Way | Nate Logan
after "Poem Addressing People Who Like Narrative Poems Involving Epiphanies and Cute Stuff Presented in a Mildly Surrealistic Way"


You are my favorite kind of people. If this poem started, "The sloth hanging out in the bodega had a taste for fruit popsicles," you would not be offended at the absence of a linebreak. You would not put the book back on the shelf. You would keep reading and be pleased to find out that this sloth, totally out of her element, got along with cats, dogs, and other pets brought into the bodega. At the end of the poem when the sloth becomes a mascot for the neighborhood and t-shirts are made, this seems practical to you. If it is silly, it is only mildly. You want one of these t-shirts. You get on the Internet and find my blog. You write a nice email: "Dear Nathan, I really liked that poem with the sloth and popsicles. Did this really happen? Would there be a way to get a t-shirt with this sloth on the front?" And I will write back: "Thank you for your kind words about my poem. Unfortunately, this did not happen to me. But it happened to a professor I had at Ball State University, Peter Davis. He wrote about this incident. His poem about it ends with a baby smiling, even though there was no baby. There was never a baby. There was only the sloth."


Untitled| Rita Dahl
after Poetry! Poetry! Poetry!


I have reason to believe that I'm very, very good and that you're leaning closer and closer and closer and that at any particular instant you may kiss me on the cheek. That is why I am distancing from you right now. Because I am so fucking good, that you are not good enough even to kiss my feet. I would rather kiss my own feet and let you follow me during the night time to the front door of my home, and then leave you suddenly just like a ghost. I am built that way: not to give up, to last like the front battallion in Winter War, and unfortunately I do not talk to the strangers the way you seem to do. So, why don't you just keep on reading these confessional lines and try to make up something of your own life, if you even have one. The fact, that your eyes still linger along these lines has made me sincerely doubt that
you have lost even the last bits of your intelligence. But I have a suggestion: if you want to have someone to come on you, why don't you ask from your father. I am too busy to be occupied with something formal so that I feel it's legitimate. You could even try reaching me, or something. You could google me. But note, that the reference list may be immensely long, and it might take several minutes to simply go though it. I guess this was it all. Last and least I want to wish you a wonderful midsummer, as I guess that we won't be seeing each other after this.


Of Ideal Prison Responses | Nicholas Liu
after "Professional Depression"

My generation's Musée Des Beaux Arts
is a line spoken by Raul Julia:
The day Bison graced your village
was the most important day of your life,
but for me, it was Tuesday.
Every ten minutes
someone makes this their status message
and every ten minutes someone gets shot.
This poem was supposed to take twenty minutes tops
and be composed in Anagram Artist, but you, Peter Davis,
just don't use enough X's, or words, and now one or two more
have been shot for it. I guess I do mind changing my plans,
like how maybe for the longest time you thought
you'd make a pretty good birdwatcher
before you realised you just want to live somewhere
where you can look out the window and see
a bird with a really hardcore name, e.g. "yellowhammer".
In my country we don't have anything hardcore, only exercises.
My exercise this week is to assume that everyone I meet—
I mean, who I argue with on Facebook
—is a truly great novelist.
It's amazing how it makes no difference at all.
I still wouldn't go to a poetry reading with them
or at all. At one reading Seamus Heaney quoted
a pretty great line:
Attending another poet's classes is like going to prison.
This was about five minutes
after David Ferry had said, I'd like to introduce Seamus's poems
by reading one of my own.
My friend Richie liked it all a lot more than I did,
so I put him in this poem, and another one, so he'll remember me
when he's editor of Ploughshares, or something.
I'd rather read Peter Davis, who is not virtuous.
You think you're so smart, he says to himself.
No, I is way smarter than that.
Peter, the wise have their amusements and we have ours.
We approach each other as we approach cliché,
that is, from our own appropriate distance.
When the water rose, I touched your ankle in two places.
The problem with spending months developing
a sense of your own ridiculousness
is you wake up the next day
no less ridiculous.


I Feel Spooky, Tina | Joanna Penn Cooper
after a line by Peter Davis

The only person named Tina that I remember knowing was from 4th or 5th grade. She was small with a cute doll face and fine curling hair. She looked very fragile with a strawberry birthmark on the side of her face, a sad, unsettled look about the brow. In truth, my main memory of her is one day when Tina, Tammy, and I were taken down to a basement classroom to begin learning the flute. Maybe the unsettled look only happened on that day. Maybe her name wasn't Tina.

Tammy was one of the middle-aged fifth graders. There were a few girls who looked like 47 year-olds in shift dresses. I imagined that they were required to do all the housework and bring their dads beers while their moms worked overtime at crap jobs. These middle-aged kids had a resigned look about them, and it was both creepy and comforting to be sitting there learning long-division with them wafting preternatural competence and brokenness out into the room.

I hope that Tammy hasn't worked too hard in her life. I hope that she is now a teacher of the flute. And, Tina, if that is her name . . . I hope she owns a condo and drives a Cadillac. Maybe a vintage MG.

We all lived at the base of some mountains. This meant different things to each of us. That was the year I was a complete latch-key kid unto myself and I skipped a month of school to stay home and watch I Dream of Jeannie. One day I missed a field trip to the bread factory, and someone kind who I didn't know very well-- Tammy?-- brought me my free sample of bread, a miniature loaf, all perfect and small in its cellophane. For the rest of the time I lived in that town, whenever that baking bread smell from the factory wafted my way, I felt an unaccountable longing.


Poem Addressing Extras in a Planet of the Apes Movie |
Jeffrey Hecker
after Poetry! Poetry! Poetry!

This poem needs you to pretend you're loping, eating, or otherwise distracted. Better-looking less-hairy people (necessary to plot) will be our only speakers. Our director will record each line in every possible tone. One conversation could take a month. Don't stare into steady-cam. Even blinking, 30 yds away, changes entire movies, spoils PG-13 rating goals. Best to consider yourselves wall-paper, Papier-mâché, paper cuts. No arm gestures--even the silvery gibbon. You'll feel compelled to pick up that prop vase, conduct a silent tête-à-tête with an ape of an opposite sex. Hold that cardboard vase between you so long as you don't actually talk or touch. Extras aren't meant to feel. No background should be remotely more active than the story, story our director will set in stone, usually by stirring a black cauldron at 2 a.m. in his FEMA trailer, after hollow animal intercourse with most of you (except you and you). You're neither cast nor crew.


A Facebook Wall Post Addressing [Peter Davis's] Birthday
Joe Cermak
after Poetry! Poetry! Poetry!

Wow! How cool, that it's your Birthday! I hope you are excited about it, at least a little. I imagine that Birthdays acquire a bitter-sweet feeling as you grow older. But if I was you, I wouldn't worry. Just have fun with the wife and kids. Drink good beer, eat good food. Have fun! Life's too short, Pete! Although the previous comment often comes off cliche, I can't help but believe it's true. BOOM!

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