Darren Weiss & His Dirty, Sexy, Off-Beat Poetry

Photo — Natalie Escobedo

It’s a bit ironic that PAPA’s music feels so from-the-gut when the band’s lead songwriter — our friend Darren Weiss — is such a cogitator. He’s a sweetheart and I’ve only ever seen him act kindly (and occasionally very silly), but it’s also clear he has a lot in his head. 

In Darren’s poetry, though, he lets us into his psyche a little more, giving passage to those intimate creative moments that are sparked by an idea maybe while he’s practicing drums, sipping tea at home in Echo Park, or just staring out the touring van window. It’s how I — and we, collectively — can know him better, as a friend and artist. The poems are thoughtful, sexy, fun, often just really fucking funny, and worth appreciation. 

I asked Darren recently about how he approaches his poems in comparison to song lyrics and he told me the major difference is that his poetry has no bounds. “With songwriting, there's a more concrete sense of direct expression, and of course the need to economize your thoughts to fit into the melody, rhyme scheme, and song structure,” he said. “With PAPA, I usually have a person, or group of people in mind that I'm trying to reach. My poetry is pretty much lawless.”

He told me there are no real practices when it comes to his poems. “It's the one medium that I work in that I let run really free, and simply call it back when I need it,” he said. “I write the most when I'm traveling. Being taken out of my element, overhearing bizarre conversations from strangers. I love the feeling of being the outsider, there's just a greater sense of freedom that comes from being ‘other.’”

Please relish in Darren’s latest poems below and head to the bottom for a short list of recommended reading.

I want to write my whole life down

I want to write my whole life down
All of it.
Then set the script on fire
And watch the ashes rise
Like one of those romantic Chinese fortunes
And when the ashes reach the proper height
I’ll reach for my butterfly net
And catch up to all those crispy things
And roll them into a joint (about as long and wide as I can remember my life to be)
And inhale it deep into my lungs,
Only to blow it out through my lips again
And watch the smoke
As it dances and disappears into the sky 

Malcolm X wouldn’t have accepted my invitation to brunch

Malcolm X wouldn’t have accepted my invitation to brunch,
Which is a shame, cause I would have saved up to take him some place nice


I saw you as Aunt Jemima
Which made me want to strip you of everything
That doesn’t make you look like Aunt Jemima
And lift you up
With a hand on each hip
To bring you to all fours
And lick the back of your thighs
Until I’ve had enough
And then you can show me
What kind of hairstyle you’ve been hiding
Under that do-rag 

The stage has been dressed

The stage has been dressed.
The scene is set for unbearable familiarity,
The curtain shivers
When it ought to shake
And the lamb chops
Stink of lemonade 

There’s a patch of land

There’s a patch of land
Before New Mexico becomes Colorado
That can’t seem to figure itself out,
And I’m grateful to pass through it.
As I roll through in the back row of my Ford Econoline Van,
I stick my tongue out and make a face,
Thinking how tonight I’ll be in some college town
Where there will be café’s,
Hotels with heated pools,
Seinfeld on syndication,
And girls who still like to give blowjobs
And this mountain won’t be nothin’ but this mountain.
But as I looked back,
I saw the wind blowing the leaves of the trees in our direction,
And realized that God was sticking his tongue back out at me.
Cause’ one day I’ll be in a box, and will have to do without
Hotels with heated pools,
Seinfeld on syndication,
And collegiate blowjobs,
But this mountain will still be this mountain. 

Darren Weiss’ Recommended Reading

We asked Darren for a few book suggestions by poets who have inspired his work. “Frank O’Hara, Gregory Corso, and Richard Brautigan have always spoken to me in ways that are honest, contemporary, and perennial,” he told us. Read up. 

Want more? Get yourself a copy of Darren Weiss’ book of poems and drawings, The Only Thing Worse Than a Woman is a Man, at our webstore.