I set out to write a poem,
and turned out a cliché;
a pretty little cliché,
like a rose
but a little better than just a rose;
not a red rose —
like a yellow rose,
gifted between lovers on anniversaries
of their first fight.
I suppose even this cliché has a right to life;
I like it better than a bunch of people I know.
Happily, we have the capacity to recognize clichés;
and for this self-reflexive brilliance
we are gravely indebted to the French.
I was born from and raised on clichés.
I’m quite prone to committing
them, for this reason.
Of course I’m not the only one.
There’s plenty of clichés in the world.
Most of humanity seems made up of clichés.
TV gushes it.
So does pop music.
Our winter holidays ooze clichés,
also greeting cards and shopping malls.
And, of course, calling
these things cliched
Being a hipster is a cliché —
a spirited irony.
Corporate culture can’t function without clichés.
Military propaganda use it like religion.
The Republican Party is full of clichés.
The Democrats resort to it all the time,
except they can dress it up better.
Even Obama relies on it.
You can’t be president without being cliched;
among other things
you need a graceful
and supportive wife
and at least one amiable child —
and maybe a dog.
I wonder if higher civilizations would thrive
ours might permanently falter.
The cliché is the lowest currency
of human exchange.
It’s patronizing, ignobling,
and insipid to all.
It induces eye rolls among
and blatant snickers among impolite ones.
Yet, we need it
’cause it’s understood —
so we put up with it .
But what within
surpasses the clichés
we consume —
subsumed into us?
If spirit doesn’t exist,
is spirituality a cliché?
A clique is a herd of clichés emboldened.
Does madness ever arise from the inability
to cope with clichés?
Photograph by JUN HUA EA