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The Book of General Ignorance: A Slam Poem This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By
The Book of General Ignorance

There are 4 kinds of people, intellectually speaking.
There are the people who know that they know things,
and the people who know that there are things they don’t know,
and the people who don’t know how many things they know,
and then there are the people who don’t know that they don’t know anything about anything.

And The Book of General Ignorance
swears it’s for the people who realize how very little they know about the world, and want to know more.
So I read it.

I learned that chop suey isn’t really Chinese,
and that bagpipes aren’t really Scottish,
and that there are actually only 46 American states,
because Massachusetts, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia
all think they’re too good for us
and prefer the term “commonwealths.”

I read that the average person takes a mere 7 minutes to fall asleep at night,
but that doesn’t apply to those of us
who lie there and wonder
how to escape a vicious crocodile
(FYI, you’re supposed to rubber band its mouth shut and run away)
or why sunlight is technically invisible.
You can’t see it, because if could you see it,
there would always be a layer of milky fog
between you
and the rest of the world.
Unless, of course, you’re in the dark.
Which is even stranger because it’s not there
and you still can’t see through it.
They say it takes the average person 7 minutes to fall asleep,
but last night it took me 4 hours.

I learned that mosquitoes hum a concert B natural when mating,
that Mike Tyson owns 4 pet tigers,
and that the Eskimos don’t really have a hundred words for snow.
The only have 4.
They do use the same word for “kiss” and “smell” though.
The French use the same verb, “aimer,” for both “to like” and “to love.”
This is fine most of the time, but when you want to tell someone,
“I like you” or
“I love you,”
je t’aime doesn’t let you choose.

I read that Christopher Columbus never actually said the world was round,
that if you cut an earthworm in half all you get is 2 halves of a dead worm,
and that Baghdad really was a beautiful city once, centuries ago,
but now a thumbs up translates to, “screw you.”

And did you know
that the earth is millions of years overdue to be hit by another giant asteroid?
(Don’t look out the window, it could be coming now.)
The death toll would exceed 2 billion.
Which means that even if you make it,
one third of the people you know won’t.

I learned that the moon smells like gunpowder,
that sometimes hippos will drag sharks out onto land and trample them to death,
and that for every hundred thousand paper clips sold, only 5 actually clip papers.

And have you ever slid down a banister?
No, you haven’t.
I believe the correct term is “handrail.”
The “banisters” are the little poles holding up the handrails.

I read that there are more movie theaters in the former Soviet Union than there are stars visible on a clear night,
that Antarctica is drier than the Sahara Desert,
and that if you took every Eskimo in the world, and grouped them by fives,
the entire population could park at the Los Angeles International Airport.

And if you’ve ever wondered what color the universe is,
now I can tell you.
It’s officially…beige.
For a couple weeks some scientists at Johns Hopkins University said it was pale green.
They even looked at paint chips, and claimed the universe was somewhere in between Mexican Mint, Jade Cluster, and Shangri-La Silk.
Then they realized they’d miscalculated and it’s actually more of an oatmeal.

I learned that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was actually female,
that you’re more likely to be injured while taking off a pair of tights than while swimming after eating,
and that when one chicken starts to bleed, the rest of the coop will peck it to death.

I read that the suicide rate in Lithuania is 5 times that of the US,
and that throughout history, more people have died at their own hand than have been killed in wars.
That adds up to millions. One every forty seconds.
And despite this, I’ve had friends tell me that it’s not that they don’t want to live,
no, they just want to live…
“differently.”

On page “x” of the introduction
The Book of General Ignorance claims
“This book is for the people who know they don’t know very much.”
Because, as we all know,
there are the people who know that they know things,
and the people who know that there are things they don’t know,
and the people who don’t know how many things they know,
and then there are the people who don’t know that they don’t know anything about anything.





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This article has 62 comments. Post your own now!

HereSheIsThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 2:05 pm
I've read that book, and you've done a perfect job of squeezing its soul into one epic poem :)
 
MissJadeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 24 at 11:57 am
Such excellent work!
 
WildKiwi said...
Apr. 17 at 7:31 am
This is really good!
 
Mr.WordExpertThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Feb. 20 at 2:27 pm
haa..... after reading the whole poem.......... I have only one thing to say.. . . . I LOVE YOU. And I LOVE IT. its phenomenal.
 
anteaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Feb. 20 at 3:04 am
Amazing! Good Job!!
 
ConsalvatorThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 26 at 7:17 pm
Better than "alternative facts"
 
Oliver Your Host said...
Oct. 13, 2016 at 11:39 pm
Damn son... that was a nice poem
 
dragonstarThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 13, 2016 at 5:44 pm
This made me think. Hard. If every thing in this poem is true, how did they find the color of the universe?
 
SparaxisThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Dec. 7, 2016 at 8:02 am
I don't know! I didn't even think it was possible!
 
dragonstarThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 17 at 10:47 am
So.. apparently they are calling the color 'cosmic latte' but I'm not sure how true this is.
 
jedjakeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sept. 20, 2016 at 8:33 pm
The author wrote a second book it was really funny
 
vivz02 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 28, 2016 at 12:30 pm
I LOVE this poem! It's hilarious, the intro and conclusion are perfect, and it never gets tiring! Definitely one of my favorite pieces on this website. Keep up with the good work!
 
Gagax said...
Aug. 8, 2016 at 3:36 pm
BEST THING I EVER READ LOVE THIS POEM U GOT TALENT ITS FUNNY OMG I WANT TO GIVE U AN AWARD AND SO MANY HUGS THIS IS AWESOMEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!! imma read this book
 
adventuregirl24331This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jul. 27, 2016 at 10:58 am
i love it. great piece of work. best part you had fun writing it. right?
 
E.Inis said...
May 8, 2016 at 8:49 pm
Absolutely fantastic piece! Well done.
 
kate.marieThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 11, 2016 at 9:53 pm
dude this is wonderful; really made me think ...
 
LittleInker said...
Feb. 5, 2016 at 8:06 pm
 
BreeZephyr This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 3, 2016 at 5:41 pm
By the way, why the heck is this not in the magazine???
 
graphiteshimmer replied...
Aug. 8, 2016 at 9:28 pm
what you said.
 
BreeZephyr This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 3, 2016 at 5:41 pm
Two quotes for you: "True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing." and "I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think." Both quotes are from Socrates, and this poem reminded me of him. He was a genius. So are you. Amazing job on this.
 
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