Tangled Up in Rules

[Sincere apologies to Bob Dylan. This is surely an example of dragging genius into the depths]

Tangled Up In Rules

Late one mornin’ the clock was tickin’,
I was pushin’ the edge
Wond’rin’ if commas worked at all
Was a period right instead.
I think the rule says clauses together
Sure are gonna need help
I never did get that, like, English class
Grammar textbook was totally lame.
And I was sittin’ in the back of the room
Words floatin’ in a stew
Hearing ‘bout what I did wrong
Lord knows I’ve paid no dues, learnin’ you,
Tangled up the rules.

I was skimming for my first test
Soon to be confused
I thought my genius enough, I guess,
But my old teacher wasn’t amused.
Shredded my prose to splinters of wood
Said my verbs didn’t agree
Gave up on the first sad draft
Both agreeing it was best.
Endless errors stared back at me
As Evil was walkin’ away
I heard it say over my shoulder,
“Put a comma before that conjunction too,”
Tangled up in rules.

I had my eyes on punctuation
Pondered hyphen rules for a spell
But I never did study all that much
And decreed the time just hell.
Then I misplaced what to modify
Where it happened to drop ignored
Thinkin’ for a time about pronoun use
The choice between you or yours.
But all the while I must admit
Caring was far behind,
I seen a lot of lessons
But they never stayed in my mind, and it’s so screwed
Tangled up in rules.

I was lookin’ in an object’s face
But I saw an adjective,
Teacher was sweatin’ some kind of phrase
part of speech so not clear.
And later on as my crew bounced out
Tired grammar rules do the same,
Linking verb sitting there doing its thing
Said to me, “Don’t you know my game?”
I muttered somethin’ underneath my breath,
I studied the lines on the page.
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When Dad was all, like, crazy, “This crap just won’t do,”
Tangled up in rules.

I put a subject on the page and fumbled for a verb
“A transitive needs an object,” they say
“but is this that kind of word?”
So I hooked up with intransitive
And wanted to modify
looked to use an adjective
not an adverb with L-Y.
So every one of my verbs work smooth
But should work smoothly, damn
Errors cluttered every page
Like it was written in the dark without a clue,
Tangled up in rules.

I rocked with phrases participal
put some pacing in my prose,
The cat eating in the cafes at night
And lights revolving in the air.
Then I started into dealing with nouns
And something inside of me died.
I tried to find a gerund, just one
And froze up inside.
And then finally even Mom gave up
Truth finally dawned,
The only thing I’d learned how to do
Was to keep keepin’ on like some people do,
Tangled up in rules.

But now I’m livin’ on my own,
I got to get a job somehow.
All the teachers I used to know
Still got no love to show them now.
It’s my right to reject it
It’s their outdated stuff.
Don’t know why they all kept trying,
I don’t know why they bothered to teach us.
‘Cuz me, I’m still writing bad
You know, that’s the Way I Roll
I always did think the same,
I just showed up for the minimum to get through,
Tangled up in rules.

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