D.A. Cooper


Petrarch On (Not) Reading Dante

c. 1324

I’m not the kind of guy who likes to read
that cheugy stuff the masses talk about.
His popularity gets on my nerves.
The Comedy was his big thing, and no,
I haven’t read it, well not all of it.
I skimmed a few lines and was not impressed,
but I have heard enough performances
to last an afterlife—talk about Hell!

His big mistake, of course, was ditching Latin—
I mean, he knew the Roman language well
and still wrote in the vulgar tongue despite
its problems. Yeah, I get it, it’s our language,
but it’s a little basic, amirite?
The irony is I appreciate
tradition better than he ever did.
But what can you expect from someone born
in the Dark Ages? Times have changed, my dude!

What else? His stuff was just so long, I mean,
a hundred cantos for one poem, and then
that terza rima stuff. It’s like, OK,
boomer, we get it, you are good at rhymes.
Not like it’s hard in Tuscan though, just sayin’.

I only met the guy one time—he seemed
a little extra (you know what I mean).
I heard him blubbering about the bread,
that saltless stuff the people eat in Florence.
It’s nasty, man. I basically grew up
in Avignon where both the poetry
and the cuisine are bussin’, unlike here.

And Dante had, if I remember right,
that weird obsession with the Portinari
chick. Pretty cringe, and kinda sus, y’know?

I’ve gotta speak my truth, gotta be brave—
as modern poets go, he’s not my fave.

D.A. Cooper is a husband and father from Houston, Texas. His poetry has also appeared or is forthcoming in Irreantum, Dialogue Journal, and L’Italo-Americano. He is an MFA candidate at the University of St. Thomas, Houston.