Peter and Andrew – 11th Letter

Dear Andrew,

Allow me to introduce myself: I am the resident of Garland, NE that you badgered until I accepted your letter to Mr. Ted Kooser. Upon talking to Ted about you, he and I both felt it best that he didn’t respond to your inquiry. I, however, have decided to give my two cents. I figured I’d use the return name of Ted Kooser (with my address in place of his) on the envelope, in order to ensure that you’d open this.

Your letter intrigued me. It seems we have very different ideas when it comes to poetry. I write poetry myself, and while I am not nearly as talented as the famed Mr. Kooser, I do know I am more talented than you. Ted has taught me a lot about poetry, and while I appreciate a style more like his, I do respect and admire poets of all different styles, and wish the best of luck to anyone with a passion for writing, regardless of how they write. I know Ted feels the same.

Normally, I do not get involved with the correspondences of Mr. Kooser, but yours is a special case. What makes it special? Well, aside from your loitering around the neighborhood in search of him, it is the sheer terrible nature of your writing. You seem to employ some kind of different-for-the-sake-of-being-different style: with your forward slashes and periods instead of spaces. I bet if I asked you, you’d tell me that poetry is an animal that has been tamed for too long and that you are attempting to bring back the true essence of the beast, or some bullshit. The world has encountered a million writers like you.

Somehow, it seems that people wish to jump aboard an art form so badly that instead of saving up to buy a ticket to get on the train, they just take a shit near the conductor and call it a ticket. Your poem is that piece of shit.

I’m sure that all your poems are like the one you sent Ted, as I know you’re the same lunatic I heard ruined that Open Mic in Salt Lake City. Screaming about some dead guinea pig you brought to the reading: this doesn’t exactly shout mental stability. And I’m sure if I met you a few years ago, you would have claimed to be striving towards becoming the world’s best accountant, and meandering about Garland looking for our best one, bringing with you ledgers and numbers or something.

To you, poetry is a phase. It’s just an area that you can exploit in order to be respected which, for some reason, you crave. Well, you’re not getting any respect from me. As a friend and neighbor of Mr. Kooser, I’ve met crazies like you in the past. In fact, one time, this woman walked over to Ted and I in a coffee shop and claimed to be doing something called “Night Terror Art.” I felt like stabbing her in the eye with the unsharpened pencil I had in my pocket. She claimed that the only thing holding her back was that her name (I’ve forgotten since, thank God) was not artistic enough. Disgusted, I threw my receipt at her for the two bottles of jam I had purchased for nine dollars, and said “here’s some inspiration, you talentless bag of ass” before walking out.

Thinking about the fact that you came that close to my beloved home actually just gave me a chill. Not even because a clearly disturbed individual apparently hiding on his person a decomposed guinea pig was talking to me, but because I had to bring in your lousy fucking poem to my desk in order to write you back. I have since burned your poem outside, so that no fumes enter my house.

I read in that newspaper article about your Salt Lake City debauchery that you were headed towards California to become a famous poet. If you become rich and famous, hopefully I’ll be unable to process any new memories. That way, I can remember the times before they catapulted lunatics into fame for flinging the shit they call art onto the faces of everyone asinine enough to glance at it.

I don’t care if you’re in California, back at this address in New York, or at the top of a soon-to-erupt volcano and can only remember my address: NEVER WRITE BACK.

– William

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Peter and Andrew – 10th Letter

To my dear friend Andrew,

I write to you with foot stuffed securely in mouth. As I write you this letter, I have right next to me on my desk a reply letter from none other than Mr. Ted Kooser! I read through it, it’s a bit cryptic (you oddball poets are all the same) and there’s a poem written at the bottom. I won’t ruin the surprise for you so I won’t re-write it, but enclosed is the letter from Mr. Kooser. Congratulations, you’ve officially made me look like an idiot for doubting that you’d ever make something of yourself besides night-manager at Wendy’s.

I’m very excited to hear that you’ve finally made it to California and are making friends (although slightly, er, eccentric, they seem kinda cool) and doing what you love. You’re living the AMERICAN DREAM my friend, and if your parents weren’t so concerned with getting you out of jail so often they’d be very proud of you. I have to say, and this may be the first and only time I’ll ever say this, I’m mildly jealous of you. Ugh, I feel all icky after saying that.

I would like to apologize for my bitterness towards you in my last letter. I hope you understand how difficult it is for me to continue my life without Cheryl. Since that fateful night I now call “The Evening of Sullen Intrascrotal Hematoma” I’ve gotten fired for an intense slide in production (who could blame me?) and have been watching re-runs of Pete and Pete and eating nothing but Manwiches. I was extremely broken up about the situation, as you can tell. I finally got a chance to speak with Cheryl recently and I got a chance to find out how much of a filthy whore-skank she really is. She felt that since the relationship is over and there’s no need to please the other person, it was alright for her to list the dudes she had slept with while we were dating. There were… a couple.

So I’ve reached an impasse. Do I stick here with no job, girl, or friends? Well, as fun as it might seem, I may be done with this boring life I’m leading. If your offer still stands, I’m packing up and moving to California to finally pursue my life-long dream of becoming a marine life taxidermist. I KNOW, it sounds crazy, but this just may be the thing that finally makes me happy! I’m sending over your porn stash and some of my stuff right now and I’ll be in San Francisco International Airport a week from today. GET READY! It’s time to reunite the devastating duo of Pete and Andy. PREPARE FOR IMPACT!

Foreverfully the dudest of your friends,

Pete

Peter and Andrew – 9th Letter

Peter,

I hope this letter finds you better than last I had heard from you. I do apologize for waiting 2 weeks to write you back, but as you will tell after reading this letter, I have been quite busy. I also apologize for “destroying the one thing about [your] life that made [you] really happy.” But, come on, man: Cheryl kneed you in the balls. You don’t need a woman like that. You need a woman who will be accepting of you and your friends, regardless of how many lewd statuettes this friend creates with her face on them, no matter how often this friend needs money, no matter how often this friend gets arrested at a Coffee Shop in Salt Lake City for bringing a dead guinea pig into the establishment and gets forcefully ejected while he accidentally (it slipped out) screams “BLACK POWER!” Yes…that is the kind of woman you need. And she’s out there, man! Let me tell you, dreams can come true…

That was a perfect segue for me to start talking about myself. Peter, I know you will be glad to find out that I am in California now, and I truly do love the air, the weather, and the respect artists like me receive. Let me tell you the tale of how I made it to, what we Californians like to call, “The Western-Most State Where Life’s a Piece of Cake” (TWMSWLaPoC for short. It’s catching on with my roommates)

Last I wrote to you I told you that I was “in hiding.” This really meant that I was sleeping around the back side of the Post Office, waiting for what I assumed to be a package of money from my parents which they intended on having me use to fly back home to New York.

Well, it wasn’t long before the police found me thanks to loitering charges being brought up against me. Apparently, the police nicely told me that my parents weren’t going to send me a package, but rather that it would be arranged for them to be billed for my flight. I was escorted to the airport by an officer, and I must admit that for a minute I thought I would be going home. But luckily for me (and for POETRY), a crisis occurred a few miles away from the airport which demanded the officer’s attention. Seeing as though I was set up in the system to have my parents billed, the officer brought me to the cashier and told me to explain to them the story (which he said they would already be aware of), as he rushed out the door.

It was then I came up with the idea of saying I lived in California, which apparently WORKED somehow. Then, oh then, my good friend Peter, I boarded a plane headed towards TWMSWLaPoC!

I landed in the San Francisco International Airport. The flight was pleasant. I flew a non-stop coach flight which lasted one hour. While in the air, I wrote this poem:

airborne/
not.for.the.cough.cough/
but.the.birds.do.fly/
without.wings.in.the.summer/
it.is.desire/
the.desire.of.man/
pretzels.anyone/

I meandered about on foot until I found a coffee shop. Upon going in, I met Gabriel, ThOmas (rhymes with “dough mAHs”), and 2j90 (I found out while she was drunk that her birth name was Francine). These three artists were living in an apartment a little bit away, and after a bit of chatting they QUICKLY accepted me! Not only am I now living with them, but my poetry is being more appreciated than ever.

Gabriel works in film. He does “Lens-Cap Art.” As far as I can tell from the 8 hour movie marathon he made us all watch one night, this means that he creates independent films while leaving the lens-cap on his camera.

ThOmas works in the post office as a “Post Artisan.” He puts a small “o” in the corner of every piece of mail he receives in to send out. He has claimed to be one of the widest regarded artists in the country today, since the San Francisco Post Office mails letters all over the USA. As far as I can tell, his art is pointless.

2j90 specializes in “Night Terror Art.” She leaves a camera on every night and records her night terrors. She hopes to one day have an exhibit displaying her terrors on various nights. As far as I can tell from the 8 hour movie marathon she made us all watch, the only difference between one night to the next is her pajamas. Other than that, she always screams for nearly an hour, during which the only words I can ever make out are “THE LUDICROUS LIFESTYLE! HARK! HARK! HARK! HARK!”

They often call me Classic Andy, since I have such a classic approach to the arts. They regard my poetry as fantastic. 2j90 even said that if she were not asexual, she would highly consider me a love interest due to how well I keep in touch with my emotions through my art.

They do expect me to pay rent, however. I know in your letter you said that you would not be sending me any more money “for obvious reasons,” but if there is any money in the donation tin, or if Ted Kooser has responded to my letter with any cash offerings, please send that, with your reply, over to the return address on this envelope. In the meantime, I am going to shop around my poetry to all nearby publications and hope to make a profit off that. Plus, there’s a help wanted sign in a video store nearby that I may inquire about.

As long as I ruined your life and you have no reason to be in New York, you may want to consider quitting that awful job of yours, changing your name to something more “artistic,” showcasing some hidden talent of yours, and moving in with Gabriel, ThOmas, 2j90 and I. We have been calling ourselves “The only living 4,” but I suppose we can change that to a 5 if you decide to come! I’ll gladly share half of my couch with you for sleeping arrangements. Also, 2j90 has some non-asexual friends that you may be able to showcase your newly-acquired sense of wine tasting to!

Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks for not wanting me to die. I also hope you are both alive and well.

through.the.stars.and.the.dead.of.space/

andrew

Peter and Andrew – 8th Letter

Andrew,

As of now there is no word back from Mr. Kooser. I’m sure he will be writing back any day now, so I’ll make sure to contact you as soon as possible.

I want to congratulate you on ruining not only my wine-tasting party but also my life while being more than 2,000 miles away. “How on earth did I do that?” you might ask. Well, things were going fairly well, Arthur, Laurie, Cheryl and I were having a great time. I was getting progressively drunker while still getting by on my minimal wine-knowledge by calling everything I tasted “grape-y.” That is, until Arthur mentioned that he read the most bizarre and hilarious news article earlier that morning while browsing the internet at work. He asked to use my computer to show it to us and I obliged, so we all crowded around the computer to check out this “crazy” story.

Well Andy, apparently news from Salt Lake City travels pretty fast because lo and behold, there on my computer screen in front of me was my friend Andrew, screaming his head off, being dragged away by the police, and throwing Burger King napkins at everyone he saw. Cheryl was noticeably peeved, but then we actually read the article. Everyone got a good laugh at it, that is, until the following excerpt:

…As the crazed man was finally being pulled into a police cruiser, he blurted out “Tell Peter thanks for all the money he recently sent and tell his disease-ridden wench of a girlfriend to go to hell and stay out of my room! BLACK POWER!”

Oh boy, did Art and Laurie every get a good chuckle out of THAT quote. Cheryl, on the other hand, was less than pleased, and she conveyed that feeling to me by trying to put her knee through my testicles. She explained that this was the reason why she could never be serious with me (the reason, I’m assuming, is you) and proceeded to pick up her bag and storm out of the apartment. This was obviously very awkward for Art and Laurie, who asked if I needed help cleaning up before grabbing their things and leaving before I could answer them.

So, thanks again for destroying the one thing about my life that made me really happy. I won’t be sending you any money, for obvious reasons. If you need anything else, don’t hesitate to ask, so I can remind you of that time that you ruined my life.

Please get to California safely. As much as I hate you right now, part of me still doesn’t want you to die.

Be safe,

Peter


Peter and Andrew – 6th Letter

Andrew,

I hate to break this to you, but if you were confronted by law enforcement for doing something you weren’t supposed to do and detained for any length of time for performing said action, you were arrested. Just so you’re aware of and completely clear on your situation, you were definitely arrested.

I’ve got some good news and some bad news. First the bad stuff: no letter from Ted Kooser, sorry man. I wouldn’t give up hope yet, though. I mean, he’s probably a very busy guy. I’m sure he’s got piles and piles of poems that he’s busy laureatting and he just hasn’t gotten to yours yet. Just give it some time.

And now for the GOOD NEWS (albeit very small good news)! Some chump(s) left $5.06 in your (new and improved!) donation bin. Some geezer passing by must have mistaken it for some kids with cancer charity it tossed in whatever they had in their back pocket. “Better I give it to this sketchy bucket than the government steal it and give it away to those dang-darnin’ (enter racial slur here).”

Despite your best efforts, I finally got into your room! It only took a grappling hook and a brick, but I did it. Honestly though, I sort of wish I had never gone in there. I’m finding it very difficult to unsee most of the things I saw in there, whether it be the half-rotten remains of James Patterson, Emperor of The Currents or the statuettes of what appears to be Cheryl participating in lewd sexual acts with carious barn yard animals. You’re a deeply, deeply disturbed individual. I luckily was able to get most of the pron out before Cheryl came over, however the neighbors have a new nickname for me: “Creepy-looking Pervert” (come on, it’s not even that clever). Don’t worry about your porn, it’s in storage and you can send for it when the time right (soon, please make that time soon).

Speaking of James Patterson, Emperor of The Currents…

enclosed please find the half-rotten remains of James Patterson, Emperor of The Currents! I figured you’d like a travel companion, and who better than the partially-mummified remains of the guinea pig that’s made my apartment smell like death? I bet you were excited when you had a package waiting for you at the Post Office, weren’t you?

I’m glad I took care of the smell situation when I did, because Cheryl and I are having a couple of her friends over my apartment for a wine-tasting get-together. I’ll admit, I don’t know much about tasting wine, but how hard could it be (“this tastes like grape juice, but grape juice that will get you FUCKED UP!”)? Really I’m just trying to get to know her friends better so she’ll be more comfortable to take the “next step.” ::crosses fingers::

Oh man, that meeting. In a nutshell, the meeting consisted of three members of upper-management, my manager and a sort-of-my-manager-but-not-really-my-boss-but-can-tell-me-what-to-do (I call him my Mini-Boss… like Protoman) explaining for a good hour and a half how they’re “very disappointed in my work,” and “are not entirely sure what I do here.” I mean, COME ON! I’m the assistant to the assistant team-leader in charge of developmental synergy and research juxtaposition! WHAT DON’T I DO!? Man, sometimes I feel so unappreciated for all the work I do there.

I’m glad to see you showing interest in my goings-ons. Usually the only time you ask me about my life is when you’re buttering me up to ask me for something.

Wait. You’re not about to ask me for money again, are you? You know Cheryl will be so pissed if she finds out about this!

I’m curious to find out what Slam-Poetry in Salt Lake City is like. All dissin’ people’s 4th wife and declaring “ain’t nobody worshippin’ like I be worhippin’!” Let me know how that turns out, it sounds absolutely ridiculous and perfect for you.

Here’s hoping you don’t offend too many SLC’ers, I hear they can kick you out pretty quickly for the most minor of things (although I’m sure getting kicked out is old hat for you, at this point).

DON’T DIE!

Pete

Peter and Andrew – 5th Letter

Peter,

You always were the practical one of us. After all, as you mentioned in your previous letter, your job at Global Synergy Limited could not be more predictable. This is why, I imagine, that you dream about something so straight-forward and unimaginative as Space-Cars. By the way, I never asked how that “big meeting” went at your job?

As for your comment that you can twist and turn poetic meaning to whatever you’d like just because the analysis of a creative process is, at best, a subjective task, and is therefore influenced by a myriad of personal feelings as well as inferred significance…well, to that I say that you are a DICK.

How DARE you even compare the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” fluff to my poetic masterpieces?!?! If you weren’t my only friend, and currently my only source of income, I’d think quite heavily about ending this letter RIGHT HERE.

But, because I have news to tell you, and because I choose to believe that you were really “just kidding” like you said, I’ll write on!

To answer your question, “Are the best poets the ones that can bury any sense of meaning under layer upon layer of obtuse metaphors?” I say YES. The best poetry should be an unending and densely enigmatic experience, whose ultimate meaning, upon finally being discovered, can be treated like a secret club between the reader and the author.

If I wanted to read something straight-forward, I would read the manual for the microwave at our apartment so I can finally learn how to defrost chicken in there without making it all cooked & rubbery. But, alas, as the chicken has taught us, we are all here for only a short amount of time before being an unpleasant carbon mass ruining life’s dinner plans.

Hmm…I’ll have to write that down on a piece of paper. I think I may have STRUCK GOLD with that one!

Onward to my story! Last I wrote, I was (im)patiently headed towards Garland, Nebraska in order to meet my new hero-by-proximity, TED KOOSER.

Well, as it turns out, people in that small community happen to know Mr. Kooser, and happen to “respect his privacy” enough not to tell “random lunatics” where he lives. Don’t worry, I wasn’t “arrested,” but I was asked by the police to please discontinue my search for the famed poet. I asked someone from Garland to please give him this poem to explain the situation. I hope it gets to his hands, as I feel he will quickly be in contact once he reads it:

kooser/
the.traveling.to.and.fro/
has.caused.the.distress/
of.digress/
with.toads.i.beckon.forward/
to.spot.the.lick/
cro.cro.cro.cro/
many.clocks.have.faltered/
the.inspiration.of.the.ages/
lies.in.this/
please.write.back.at.the.attached.address/

Since I’m not too sure when he’ll read it, and where I’ll be when he does, I figured I’d keep in touch with you and give him the address of our apartment. Right now, after explaining to the police that I wish to make it out to California, they explained that tomorrow they will escort me to a Greyhound bus. For now, I am being temporarily detained (much different than “arrested”…only lasts 1 night!) at their precinct.

The bus is going to stop at the Salt Lake City Greyhound station. I will be sure to check the Post Office at Salt Lake City for your reply. I assume, by then, Ted Kooser will have sent you his wishes for my contact information.

An officer here tells me that his younger brother goes to college near Salt Lake City, and that he attends some Slam Poetry readings that take place there. Apparently there is an open mic! I may spring for a room if I can’t find a place to crash so that I can take place in this reading.

Although, as we both know, my poetry is not much for being listened to. It is more about being read, and examined. But I’m sure if I explain this to the crowd, and pass out photocopies of my works, we can all spend my 5 minutes of stage-time reading silently.

As for the other portions of your letter, that poem you found from our “Poet’s Bender” was certainly a good lark. Again, I don’t know why the bartender wouldn’t let me pay for our shots with that poem. These people just don’t understand the value of GOOD POETRY!

It is with regret that I discuss, finally, the portion of your letter that deals with my room and Cheryl. If you and Cheryl ever do get married, and if I am indeed the best man, I always planned on my speech being “delivered” in the same fashion of my reading I plan on doing at the open mic: I will distribute copies of my poem/speech, and allow a moment for everyone to read. If, in fact, my poetry is as dense as she says it is, only I will know the TRUE MEANING behind my “cryptic words.” THEN WHO WILL HAVE THE LAST LAUGH?!?! James Patterson, Emperor of the Currents, you will be avenged!! The best guinea pig to ever roam the earth will not have died in vain!

Also, Peter, I can not believe you called a locksmith to enter my room! There was a reason why I put my entire collection of pornographic magazines, videos, and statuettes in front of the doorway, and exited through my window, down a rope, and to the street: it is so that no one could possibly enter. My years of magazine, VHS, DVD, and lewd-statuette collections may have prevented me from attaining any kind of real human relationship, but at least now it is preventing anyone from entering my room–and it is ESPECIALLY preventing Cheryl from moving any of her stuff in there! My room will not be your girlfriend’s closet space on my watch.

Hope all is well! Please write back with Ted Kooser’s response, and with any money left in the now-larger donation tin.

through.the.stars.and.the.dead.of.space/

andrew

PS. the wretched smell is probably from James Patterson, Emperor of the Currents’ decomposing guinea-pig body. Since I left, I haven’t been able to continue the mummification process. I promise that I will continue this upon my return.

Peter and Andrew – 4th Letter

Andrew,

You should write a poem about space cars, they sound totally cool. Think about it; rocket-cars transporting astronauts to space-work and rocket-minivans transporting their wives to space-pilates class. Space-cars man, that shit’s crazy.

Judging by the explanation you gave me, it seems to me that any poem can be construed to mean anything. Like, the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” could represent your Dad, the “rain” represents his raging alcoholism and love for bare-knuckle boxing your dog and the “sun” could mean it finally dawning on him that he loves dudes and his running away to Chile with Armando. You see? It all makes sense now that I made some vague connections and talked down to somebody in a holier-than-thou tone. Do you think I was born to be a poetry critic after all?

I’m just kidding, man. I don’t mean to make fun. I guess I just never got poetry, you know? What makes it good? Are the best poets the ones that can bury any sense of meaning under layer upon layer of obtuse metaphors?

Actually, why don’t you get Mr. Kooser to answer me, since you’re so positive you’re going to be meeting him? I honestly couldn’t imagine him letting some random fan into his house, but you’ve certainly impressed me with your resourcefulness thus far. I’m sure you’ll be able to lure him in with the old “if I spend $100 dollars on you, you’re morally obligated to be my friend” trick. Then, he’ll give you all his poetry secrets and you’ll get to California and write the classic American epic and make millions of dollars, all thanks to the generous gift by your friend Pete.

But more than likely he’ll just call the cops on you. Just make sure to not get busted for anything but trespassing.

I called a locksmith to try to get into your room (changing the lock, very mature) but he said there was still something on the other side of the door that was keeping him from opening it.
A. What the fuck did you do?
B. How do I fix it?
There’s a wretched smell coming from in there and I can’t do anything about it but fill my apartment with scented candles. The apartment smells like the collection of gifts that I got for every girl that I knew well enough to feel obligated to buy a gift for but not well enough to know what they actually like.

I wish Cheryl and you got along better. You know, if we get married (oh no, I hope I didn’t jinx it), you’d have to be best man, which means you’d be forced to say something nice about her in your speech. You can’t put too much blame on her for the untimely death of James Patterson, Emperor of The Currents, the note you left for her was one of your poems. I doubt she understood it.

Speaking of the “poet’s bender,” I was cleaning out my closet and found a poem you wrote during that week of debauchery. Here it is (edited without the dots and slashes, for legibility purposes):

SHOTS YOU FUCKING BITCHES
RRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAARGH!
Peter’s a pussy, alliteration=truth
Check out the rack on that specialty pie
No leave? We’re only not seeing!

Oh man, I still feel like I’m recovering from that.

If you’re in jail by the time you get this, be someone’s bitch or kill someone the first day. That’s the only way you’ll be protected.

I’ll try to save up in case I have to wire you bail money, but Cheryl yelled at me sending you money last time. I’ll see what I can do.

For the love of God take care of yourself.

-Peter