I love the UK version of The Office. There’s a nasty, horrible, evil bent to it that simply isn’t quite there in the US version, and you are never, ever allowed to lose sight of the fact that David Brent (the boss in the UK original) is a horrible evil man1.
Take, for example, Excalibur. David Brent reads this poem to his secretary in perhaps the most spot-on satirical depiction of sexual harassment I’ve ever seen (naturally, trigger warning, clip at Hulu). Let’s focus on the poem itself, though:
by David Brent
i froze your tears and made a dagger
and stabbed it in my cock
it stays there like excalibur
are you my Arthur?
say you are
take this cool dark steeled blade
steal it, sheath it
in your lake
i drown with you to be together
must you breathe?
‘coz I need heaven
And last April Fool’s, I thought I’d take this bit of poetry in to my writing critique group and present it as my work as a gag. I figured they’d recognize it, and we’d laugh…
…yeah, that was a dumb move.
Oh, it was funny as hell watching them struggle to come up with something vaguely positive to say (besides "It’s typed well…"). And then they damn near beat the crap out of me when I revealed where it came from.
K.W. Taylor, aside from being one of the most pissed, also had the most brilliant idea. "For next time," she said, "you have to rewrite this poem and make it your own. And good."
So here’s what I came up with. It’s not great – as the back cover of Bought Love is a Salaried Position points out, I don’t write poetry. But I think I met the challenge, and I present my version of Excalibur below for your enjoyment (or amusement).
But here’s your challenge: Take a story or poem that you think was horrible. Rework it until you make the story both your own and make it better.
by Steven Saus
Acid rain drips from the gutters,
into gently steaming pocks in her leather jacket.
Her tears burn the flesh of my heart.
Into your ears I whisper my words,
promise loyalty and fidelity, offered like a knight’s sword.
You shove my words away, through my chest.
Watery echoes and blurry vision,
I drown on my own promises, my own blood, my own heart’s longing.
I do not breathe during our last embrace.
It is heaven.
1Something that I think has been lost with a lot of US satire, including Family Guy and American Dad. They blur that line, so we’re not always sure if we’re laughing at Peter or laughing with him. You can’t make that mistake with David Brent. You know he’s not only a douchebag, but aspires to be a bigger douchebag. (See: Finchy)