What Happens When You Fall in Love with Bruce Campbell

Bruce Manchu...
Recently, a fellow grad student shared a writing exercise from a book titled, "The Practice of Writing Poetry". The specific exercise is called Twenty Little Poetry Projects.

It gives you twenty prompts for twenty lines that will eventually form a poem. Speaking from a "teacherly" place, writing exercises can generate content you may want to publish later. They can also just jar things loose and get you warmed up for a decent day of writing.

Plus, they're fun. That's always good enough for me. The very silly poem below was my result.

It is, of course, complete fiction. During grad school, I've written a lot about geek culture. It's fun to apply high-minded literary technique to pop culture.

What Happens When You Fall in Love with Bruce Campbell

  Bruce Campbell is one tall, cool drink of water.
  If water made you swoon like a 1920s dame watching Rudolph Valentino.
 You just know he smells like whisky and sweat,
 that he’d take you to eat flaky pastries at the supper club from The Rocketeer,
 that he’s the only guy in the world who could punch Indiana Jones in the face. 
 But only in a fair, good-natured fight.

His voice whispering in your ear could put you to sleep in two seconds flat.
He'd wear a loud shirt to meet your parents.
You’d park at the Grey Brothers cafeteria and proudly announce to your folks in the 
parking lot, “Mom, Dad, this is Bruce Campbell, my new boyfriend.”

You beg your parents with your eyes not to tell him the story they always tell people 
about how they only ever walked out of two movies, Xtro and Evil Dead.
You wish Bruce hadn’t grown that Fu Manchu to try to look more dignified. 
Now he looks like a cartoon devil. Bad subliminal message.
Oh well...maybe it'll make your mother think of Jonathan Frakes.

The dinner goes well. Your parents warm to him.
He wins your mother with his tales of behind-the-scenes special effects. 
He talks to your father about the history of the Marine Corps. 
"I'm not a real Marine, but I play one on TV!"
They laugh together and your Dad slaps Bruce on the back.
Nobody seems to mind the significant age difference.

In the parking lot, after your folks drive away, Bruce picks you up and flies away.
You both laugh about the fact that he was never cast as Superman. 
Oh, the irony.
The ground beneath you becomes an earth-tone patchwork quilt.

Three months later, his ability to fly is no longer charming,
because Bruce refuses to pick his dirty socks up off the floor. 
He spends too much time playing Xbox. 
He won't run the vacuum.

You see piles of laundry gathered at the feet of the musty basement stairs. 
You call up to him, “Hey stud muffin,” every word dripping with discontent, 
“Can you stop being a movie star long enough to toss the whites into a hot wash?”
You hear are footsteps thudding a path straight to the bedroom door,
which then slams so hard, the top of the washing machine closes on its own. 

"Vaya Con Dios, Mi Amor."
Did you just say that?
Out loud?
To yourself? 
You’ll be sorry when he ends up with an age-appropriate movie star 
and you’re still just plain old Audrey living without her Ash.

He hated it when you called him that anyway.
Upstairs, your copy of Evil Dead rattles with the last reverberation of the slammed door. 
You pick up the phone to call your mother.


So what was that all about? Well, typically with poetry (though that was more like "prosetry") you are meant to figure it out on your own. Find your own meaning. Death of the author and all that...but I'm still in teaching mode, so I'll just tell you.

If there's one theme I return to again and again as a writer, it is the intersection of the real world with the imaginary one. I also like to satirize the worship of celebrities, who as we all know, are just real people with cool jobs. (I figured that out very quickly when I had to start interviewing them for magazine articles.)

I think it's funny to write imagined interactions between two people, one real and one imaginary. Of course, Bruce Campbell is a real person. But most celebrities are also a personae. I'm pretty sure the real Bruce Campbell can't fly, is married, and doesn't play Xbox all day.

Pick up the book, The Practice of Writing Poetry and see what happens when you start playing with themes, ideas, and obsessions you return to again and again in your creative life.