“An Homage by The Bachelor’s De Facto Poet Laureate”

As a reality TV scholar, I just love this poem so much.

It isn’t hard to write a love poem if you have a TV,
a bottle of Pinot Grigio, and a killer instinct
for where to break the line: This pool party is beyond
difficult, says Brad Womack, Season 15 Episode 7,
and what could be more true of love — the beyond
difficultness of lining up your sweethearts late at night
and having to tell them about the scarcity of roses
on the table? I’ve picked up women in helicopters,
but now I’m more confused than ever. Sweet
Emily Maynard tells Brad she’s met a billion guys
who can’t handle my life, hinting that her dreamy bod
belies the tangle of briars that is her tragic past
but something I’ve always struggled with
is what to do re: the briars if you were not born
a beauty queen. You become a confessional poet,
I guess: imagine me if I could afford hair extensions
and a strapless bra that actually fit, drinking Champagne
in a limo with a Fertility Nurse, a Funeral Director,
and at least one contestant named Ashley. Lower third:
Leigh, 31, Confessional Poet. If you don’t feel for me,
I want you to send me home.
Brad and Emily break up but good news
she gets her own season and one bachelor
brings an ostrich egg to celebrate;
another enters as villain, via chopper.
You have bad days so you know
when you have good ones, says Emily,
our Juliet of Charlotte, you kiss his lips
and some poison is left to kill your own self.
Four hundred years ago, Shakespeare knew
audiences want to see lusty young-ish people
fall in love under impossible circumstances
(see also: zip-lining in Costa Rica, hypothermia
in Alberta, hot-air balloon of terror) and so
whenever Chris “the Friar” Harrison is all like
These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume, we know
we’ve been here before. Next time
someone refers to this show as guilty pleasure
I give you the power to contextualize the franchise
by looking to its timeless themes: man vs. nature
(I’m ready to get down and dirty in the jungle),
man vs. himself (I honestly don’t know what to do
with this rose), loss of innocence (I clearly did not grow up
in a jungle), love conquers all (Even though I lost my dad,
I’m going to get a great husband), and death as inextricable part
of life. When Emily says, I know I sound like I’m on my deathbed,
but I don’t want them to think that I’m not having fun,
she is speaking to the women watching everywhere —
women who fear their mortality is showing, like a blue bra strap
from under a little black dress. All we fucking want
before we die is for our one true love to turn to the camera
and say, She’s sexy without trying to be,
which makes her even sexier. Did you watch
Juan Pablo’s season? I didn’t, and it is the greatest regret
of my life, an entire chapbook of callous and indecipherable
cruelty and I like you A LOT poems that will never be written,
just as all the intimate moments of our own private carnivals
and helicopter rides and alcohol-fueled picnics and
upsetting phone calls with the ones we left behind will not be
aired on TV, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to ask
the right questions of ourselves and our beloveds:
What happened? Is this for us? Could you imagine?
You’re not doing it just because you feel sorry for me?
Are we horseback riding on trails?
This was the best thing that could happen to me?
Aren’t we already in the badlands?
The badlands are inside us, baby
and that’s where the consuming each other
with kisses comes in. Happy anniversary
to the show that never lets us forget
every time I start to feel special with you,
someone else has the same experience. 

-Leigh Stein

Read in full here.

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