Impotent: An Erasure Poem from Screwtape Chapter 2


Do not misunderstand as we see her spread
    a spectacle
Your half-finished erection building
and very small

The body and the actual face
matter very little, of course

Your double chin
  Odd clothes
  Quite ridiculous

An idea spiritual but largely pictorial
Mind full of
    Other people

Never let it come to the surface.
Keep everything hazy in mind now
Amuse yourself in the peculiar clarity
Which Hell affords

Disappointment, anti-climax is certainly
Allow this disappointment to occur
    on every human

Learn to live the transition from dreaming aspiration
to laborious doing

Disgusting little human vermin
Degrading the whole spiritual world by
Unnatural liaisons

There lies our opportunity;
There lies our danger.

I’m still learning to experiment with spacing when I transcribe these from the photo of the blacked out text. I wonder if maybe I did a little too much this time. But I like having “Bare Legs” on separate lines like a pair of bare legs in the stanza, followed by “Mere Other People” in a way that almost mimics the lines before, but end up wrong.

I also think maybe I should cut a couple of the lines. I love all of them individually, but I’m not sure that the stanzas starting “Never let it come to the surface…” and “Learn to live the transition…” belong in this piece. They maybe feel like part of something else. But I haven’t committed to killing that darling yet.

I still very much feel like I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to poetry, but it’s fun and fulfilling to train this new muscle.

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