The second day NaPo challenges me to write a poem based on a word of my choosing from those featured in a tweet from Haggard Hawks, an account devoted to obscure and interesting English words.
I chose the word misimprove, a transitive verb meaning to make worse while attempting to make better or to use something wrongly or poorly. The word has the same meaning as disimprove, which is easier to find. However, the latter lacks the important feature of attempting to innocently improve or make something better, a definition Merriam-Webster claims is archaic.
Both mean to make matters worse. Both remind me of the humorous signs in auto repair shops warning of the higher cost of repairs when shade tree mechanics have applied their shady talents.
Forgive My Misimprovements
Let me count the ways.
Bolts broke when I overtightened nuts
or worked to remove rusted ones,
When I used too much salt or bleach
or hot sauce, when I sanded or sawed
too deeply, when I erased too hard
making holes in paper, when I forced
instead of finessed, or took it apart
unable to reassemble.
I remember when
I downshifted on ice, drove too fast,
aggravating made things worse;
when I changed your battery
but reversed the polarity,
when I backed out slowly
without looking, and the day we
got stuck in the mud.
I changed the word but misspelled
the better one, I should have asked
before trying to fix your problem
(made it worse), all this
to make things better.
I trained to much, went too far,
and pressed too hard;
solutions I suggested
made matters worse. I defended
and that offended. I loved too much,
told the painful truth, tried to help,
gave you a such a push or pull leading
to your spill. I pranked something funny
that wasn’t, I said yes,
all to misimprovement.
To pile on worse woe
I tried, and things worsened more,
problems intensified, situations
aggravated, and problems compounded.
Yet, if I stop,
nothing ever gets better.
Look both ways for the questions to the answers.
Mind the gaps and ask, what is it you want me to do?