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© Paul Zarzyski. All rights reserved. These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The poem, What of the Ugly?, which existed long before the first “Am I Pretty or Ugly?” YouTube posting in December 2010, thus was not written as a response to this viral craze and/or to ride its coat tails to whatever perceived notoriety, appears most recently in the book “51: 30 Poems, 20 Lyrics, 1 Self-Interview”:

What of the Ugly?

The ugly cannot buy into the World
of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. False
reflections in fun house mirrors, the ugly,
becoming gorgeously distorted, suddenly know
nothing about truth. Truth, you see,
blooms from the ugly looking it
square in the eye every time
they’re caught off guard by chrome,
porcelain, Mop and Glo’ed linoleum,
lacquered furniture buffed
to a deep gloss finish, anything
behind or under glass. The ugly prefer dirty
cars not simonized to raindrop-
beaded sheens. They shy from clear water
moving slow or pooled. Adept
in geometry, the ugly will eyeball
precisely the angle at which
side- and rear-views will crop them
driving out of the picture. The ugly like
their silver tarnished, their glass smudged
or smoky, their sky cloudy. No Vanity Fair,
Cosmo., Victoria’s Secret, G.Q.
, ad infinitum
ever shine from the ugly’s mail,
though they will at times risk the slick
photographs of National Wildlife, and love
Humane Society billboards reading
“Single Aussie female with whiskers, big nose,
hairy chest and one glass eye
seeking mate in the country.” It’s true
what the beautiful say about ugly
going “right to the bone”—the deeper
the glow below, the lovelier
to the ugly. They’d rather mine
the marrow for one moment—faceless
shadows ruling there and driving
the beautiful mad—than be blinded
by fluorescent light off the flawless
skin’s surface. Did I mention the ugly
despising the wearers of those chic
mirrored sunglasses? Users of close-up
camera lenses? Dentists in general and, far worse,
myopic optometrists? The ugly go out of their way
to say the Lord’s name in vain
while praying for parity in heaven or,
better yet, getting even
in hell. The ugly know
things will get much uglier, but we refuse to
fear death. We do not forget
our catechism. We have learned,
shaving or putting on our makeup,
how to stand before ourselves
in judgment, meeting daily, face-to-
face, the spitting image of God.

Paul Zarzyski

What of the Ugly?—by Paul Zarzyski, from COLLISIONS OF RECKLESS LOVE, a CD imbued with Paul’s belief that poetry recited will, at times, blossom into song lyric sung—is now available on SoundCloud [click here].

produced in 2006 by Open Path Music
Denny Berthiaume, piano

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© Paul Zarzyski, 2012-13
created 03.09.12


Paul Zarzyski

published by Bangtail Press
available at and other booksellers