A Review of Amanda Palmer’s “Poem” for Boston Bomb Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Before I start here is a link to the charity that Palmer has on her blog https://onefundboston.org/. Please give whatever you can to help because that’s what’s important. Not some inane mean spirited thing I’m about to write about a irrelevant musician. Also, these jokes are about Palmer’s inability to write and not the tragic events caused by two disturbed men.


That girl from the Dresdon Dolls wrote a poem. This is not news. Girls who wear dramatic clothing and sing thinly veiled songs about dildos write poems. Lovers gonna love and haters gonna hate. The thing about this poem is, instead of it going on a moleskin notebook it went on a blog. This particular blog was of course the Amanda Palmer’s own blog. Now had this poem been about dildos or symbolic vaginas fine, throw it up there, who cares. GG Allin pissed on people and Lou Reed made an album that sounded like he plugged a curling iron into a VCR, you can write a poem.

The poem probably shouldn’t be about a very recent tragedy that we as a nation are all still trying to get over. I mean if it’s epic and heart wrenching and brings us all together in a climactic 80’s movie finish then, yeah go ahead. Instead of that heart felt poem we received the single worst piece of written word I have ever read. There was this kid in my creative writing class a few years ago. I’m pretty sure had a mild form of autism or some antisocial thing. That kid wrote a 25-page, single spaced story about space marines that didn’t have a plot. Think Seinfield without jokes meets Halo without enemies. That story is Fitzgerald compared to the next few lines you’ll read. I’ve decided to attempt to explain what’s going on to the best of my abilities but it’s like following a fly in a jar: You know it’s not going anywhere and it’s not going to end well, but guessing  where the fuck it’ll move to in the jar is impossible.  I’ll be the one in bold who’s not having a mental stroke every other line.

You don’t know how it felt to be in the womb but it must have been at least a little warmer than this.

Okay so we’re starting off strong with a reference to female anatomy that verges on a Freudian parody.

you don’t know how intimately they’re recording your every move on closed-circuit cameras until you see your face reflected back at you through through the pulp

Unless Amanda has some CSI level enhance technology intimacy is a bit of a stretch, and if he can see his reflected face his awareness of the camera is pretty decent.

you don’t know how to stop picking at your fingers.

This is how we humanize? Picking at fingers as a compulsion? Everybody can calm down this guy has fingers too.

you don’t know how little you’ve been paying attention until you look down at your legs again.

Apparently, Amanda Palmer has confused a monstrous bomber with Mr. Magoo.

you don’t know how many times you can say you’re coming until they just stop believing you.

I don’t even know what this means. Was he late for something? Is this a sex thing? You have like 20 lines of the same sentence starter and this HAD to be here.

you don’t know how orgasmic the act of taking in a lungful of oxygen is until they hold your head under the water.

Was orgasmic the absolute best word you could find? Imagining a terrorist shooting a load while being tortured isn’t exactly the greatest thing in the world. Unless it’s a David Lynch short.

you don’t know how many vietnamese soft rolls to order.

He ordered 6 of the shrimp summer roll’s from Le’s in Cambridge, they were out of shrimp, so he got pork. next question.

you don’t know how convinced your parents were that having children would be, absolutely, without question, the correct thing to do.

Without question? Absolutely? Who has kids like this? If his parents were the only humans on Earth that had no hesitation towards birthing a child we were doomed from the start.

you don’t know how precious your iphone battery time was until you’re hiding in the bottom of the boat.

Was he playing Temple Run? Why in the fuck would this be his number 1 concern? At this point he has killed a number of civilians, murdered a cop, and ran over his brother with a car. I doubt his prime concern was whether or not he could finish Words with Friends. (also I read his tweets unless he was “smokin’ dat herb” in the boat he probably didn’t have much to talk about.

you don’t know how to get away from your fucking parents.

I’d say that is one thing he actually did figure out, although in a Willie Coyote manner

you don’t know how it’s possible to feel total compassion in one moment and total disconnection in the next moment.

Can’t tell if you’re trying to be ironic here, but I think that the guy who had numerous interactions with friends before he committed something incredibly sociopathic and evil might actually be an authority on this subject.

you don’t know how things could change so incredibly fast.

Maybe you didn’t read the news, and you just met this guy on the street or something, but he went to a party after bombing a nationally televised event. He knows Amanda, he knows.

you don’t know how to make something, but the instructions are on the internet.

Okay I’m going to give you this one, that is probably what he did and we all look up shit on the internet, so it’s pretty humanizing.

you don’t know how to make sense of this massive parade.

Goddamnit. I gave you an inch and you took a mile down the road to idiocy. You are a renowned singer-songwriter (I think, she did the coin boy thing about vibrators right?) and you’re ghost writing the title page of a 12 year old goth girl’s dream journal.

you don’t know how to believe anyone anymore.

Singing lines from Sister Act 2 to terrorists is not okay, even if a bunch of people prepaid for your orchestra.

you don’t know how to tell the girl in the chair next to you that you’ve been peeking at her dissertation draft and there’s a grammatical typo in the actual file name.

If that’s what he’s peeking at then we should have caught him earlier cause that’s like really weird. Also, it’s a draft and who the hell cares about the file name. I’m pretty sure my Thesis was titled fdshfoidsafneiowahoais on my computer. Title is the word you’re looking for, title.

you don’t know how to explain yourself.

Not really poetic but this one is probably pretty accurate. He could look it up on the internet though, you did say he could do stuff like that and the unibomber wrote tons of shit, so there might be something in that manifesto thingy about how to explain yourself after committing unthinkable atrocities.

you don’t want two percent but it’s all they have.

You monster, he has a dairy allergy, low blow. Do you know how hard it is to find soy when you’re the most wanted man in America.

you don’t know how claustrophobic your house is until you can’t leave it.

When was he in a house? How did he get to the boat if he couldn’t leave the house? How do you rob a 7-11 from a house. The fuck is this even saying.

you don’t know why you let that guy go without shooting him dead and stuffing him in some bushes between cambridge and watertown.

Well that was a bit graphic. I’m sure that survivor wanted to know what could have happened, just to make sure. Good job now he’s aware.

you don’t know where your friends went.

Well if his iphone is still working then he can check the twitter page where his friends are complaining about the liquor stores being closed and how they’re going to pour one for their ‘framed homie’

you don’t know how to dance but you give it a shot anyway.

Did he lose his friends in a safety dance type narrative? Is that why these last two lines work?

you don’t know how your life managed to move twenty six miles forward and twenty eight miles back.

Is this an attempt at a subtle marathon reference? Is it a pun? Where was this movement forward and back? Normal Life to best case scenario life in prison after torture is a little more than two miles distance. What ever the statement means it’s wrong, he planted a bomb it killed people that’s the how. Done. Mystery solved. You and the angel dusted Scooby gang can go home. Beware of claustrophobia, I heard that’s a thing.

you don’t know how to pay your debts.

I’m like 95% sure based on reason and common sense that this is a really obvious metaphor, but after getting this far in, I just, I just don’t know what to believe.  She may think that this was all done to get out of paying student loans. If it is a metaphor, he can’t pay the debts and I doubt it’s even on his mind. He’s either thinking ouch there is a hole in my throat, I’m fucked, or I hate hospital food but jails probably not going to have jello.

you don’t know how to separate from this partnership to escape and finally breathe.

The car tire was actually a pretty good way to take care of that. Breathing is a bit of an issue right now, but he’s getting there.  Until the whole drowm-orgasm thing you talked about earlier happens.

you don’t know how come people run their goddamn knees into the ground anyway.

If I could queef, I would queef right now, I feel that is the appropriate response.

you don’t know how to measure the value of the twenty dollar bill clutched in your hurting hand.

Well are we talking in reference to inflation, economic principles, or the philosophy behind the barter system that is symbolic paper money? Cause that actually is pretty complex. Although you’re probably just trying to empathize with his struggle of only have a twenty. I think you are really confused about terrorist priorities.

you don’t know how you walked into this trap so obliviously.

It wasn’t exactly subtle. He set off a massive explosion, robbed a 7-11, carjacked someone, hit and ran, and then hid from the cops in a marine vessel. He committed a crime for every minority stereotype. Believe me the cops were going to find him and he knew.

you don’t know how to adjust the rearview mirror.

It wasn’t his car so that could be tricky but it’s a fucking rearview mirror. Who has trouble with this? He can Google how to make a bomb that small with a blast that big but rearview mirrors are the kryptonite.

you don’t know how to mourn your dead brother.

Okay you can finish out strong. You got this: family, a ruthless act, regret and mourning good keep it going almost there.

you don’t know how to drive this car.

And she’s back. This guy is a mass murderer not the extra in infomercial B roll. He can drive a car, use a rearview mirror, learn how to dance, and he can open a jar of pickles. I’m going to assume that the last one just didn’t fit into the poem so you took it out of the first draft.

you don’t know the way to new york.

Well the Fung Wah did shut down.

you don’t know the way to new york.

But there is Amtrak

you don’t know the way to new york.

He also has twenty dollars, an iphone, and a car according to this poem so he can just by a charger and use apple maps or something.

you don’t know the way to new york.

Fuck You.

Just please stop. There is no way that you put this on a page or a screen, looked at it, and thought that it was a good idea. This just can’t be possible. How did you get a million dollars out of people if this is how you communicate? Halfway through I’m pretty sure you forgot what how to make sentences.

Empathizing or showing the humanity in a horrible person is chilling and thought provoking when done well, but when you put out the worst  poem since Brittany Brutality’s  2005 Myspace opus “Dylan iz a Faggot I wont 2 die” it’s not anything. I was going to say it was exploitative but, I don’t think you meant to be. People shit on you as a person all the time and I’m not here to do that. I don’t care about whatever music you’re doing right now. This poem on it’s own even without the context of who you are  is  just cringe inducing. I can’t believe that the words above me went through a human head, into a computer, and onto a screen. I can’t believe that these words were read then given the okay. I wish that ms word paperclip guy was still around, because he would have totally stopped this from happening.

I guess what I’m trying to say is next time just tweet something like #forboston donate some money and play a benefit show. No one needs you to write a poem for them. Ever. People keep trying to make that Mountain Goats dude poet laureate, let him do it. You stick to copying burlesque shows and appeling to the rebel kids in the marching band. Just take a break from the writing. Please.

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