'I am lying and I am a liar': Jonah Lehrer's Terrible College Poetry

Jonah Lehrer, the Columbia-graduate Rhodes-scholar journalist-speaker-author who lost his jobs at Wired and The New Yorker for committing a pretty hilariously wide range of journalistic sins — "self-plagiarism"! other people plagiarism! just making shit up! — may never work at a magazine again. But he will always have his first love: poetry.

IvyGate has dug up some of Lehrer's work from his tenure as a director of the Columbia Review. It's not good, but those of us who live in glass houses built in sophomore year writing workshops should probably not throw stones. In any event, there is a great deal — to use the academic term — "going on" in this poem, if you are into biographical literary criticism. Enjoy:

The Frustrated Monologue

High in the clouds
watching Job die
I am like a vulture
or an ebony crow
(all black birds are scary)
counting on
the sparseness of oxygen
and the annoying harp
to reveal
the terrible truth
hidden inside the detail.
I am lying and I am a liar
and the rocks of Flaubert are blue
because blue is a cliché.
In the sky
everything is blue
and all colors are useless,
like adjectives
full of saccharine calories
quenching the epistemic hunger
but leaving behind no flesh.
I am a cloud
(forgive the image)
weightless
as steam from a mirror,
the gaseous words
spoken from my mouth
as vague and formless as suffering.
I cry, ignorant of why,
(purely for myself)
and my tears speak,
not in language but in salt
dissolved and wet and free.

[IvyGate, image via Getty]