A friend of mine recently pointed out that the vast majority of my Nexus articles contain alarming amounts of pessimism, perversion and comic violence. I promptly kicked him in the dingleberries and informed him that his life is utterly meaningless. For some strange reason, our friendship has since taken a turn for the worse. My other friends blame it on the kick to the groin. I blame it on my negative words.

Words are powerful. They can have an incredible effect on the average human’s state of mind. Don’t believe me? Try this simple test: Wait for a quiet moment in your largest class. Then, when your classmates least expect it, stand up and shout, “There’s a bomb under my seat!” You can even mix things up a bit and replace the word “bomb” with “giant elephant penis,” “Engelbert Humperdinck,” or “Mongolian warrior.” It doesn’t matter much. Screaming any one of these fun phrases will yield an entertaining response from your peers.

That’s the real power of words. When properly wielded, they can produce a desired response in their target. Most corporations are well aware of this fact. They pay people boatloads of dollars to create catchy slogans that resonate with potential consumers. Nike: “Just do it.” Gatorade: “Is it in you?” Dell: “Dude, you’re getting a Dell.” Pelican Bay Federal Penitentiary: “Dude, you’re going to Hell.”

These slogans may sound silly, but you shouldn’t discount their powers. They can crawl inside your head and alter your perceptions. I like to crawl inside heads and alter perceptions, so I decided to create a slogan of my own. It took weeks of market research and focus groups, but I eventually came up with a winner. Now, whenever I meet a stranger, I say, “Hi. Nick Pasto.” I then offer my hand and say, “Dude, don’t worry. Just do it. You’re getting a Pasto inside you.”

Unfortunately, my swanky new slogan has met with mixed results. Most people either slap me in the face or kick me in the dingleberries. Where did I go wrong? I decided that the only way to pinpoint my mistake was to master the English language. If I could somehow become a perfect wordsmith, then perhaps I could determine which components of my slogan had elicited the undesired responses.

The best way to become a true word wizard is through a thorough an understanding of poetry. Poets are masters of language. They can evoke powerful emotions and images with a few measly lines of text. Studying works by great writers like Wordsworth and Whitman has had a major impact on me. I now realize how horribly wrong I was about the true power of words.

Words are not meant to manipulate people for selfish gain, but rather to facilitate the flow of information and enrich our everyday lives. Propaganda is purely pointless. Poetry is pure perfection. Having acquired this essential knowledge, I started writing haikus, villanelles and sonnets. I soon achieved a pristine mind and soul, but it wasn’t all red roses and blue violets.

I had a problem. Not a single person would pay a single cent for one of my poems. Within a few months, I was homeless and starving. I didn’t want to die alone in the streets, so I decided to put my new literary skills to use. I calmly walked into a large bank and handed a teller the following poem:

“Though I’m happy to see you,

‘Tis a gun in my pocket.

Give me some money

Or else I will cock it.”

The teller didn’t seem to appreciate my prose. She called the cops. Now I’m in Pelican Bay, serving a 10-year sentence for armed robbery. The good news is that I can write all day without having to worry about paying bills. The bad news is that my cellmate looks like Engelbert Humperdinck. At night, he crawls on top and whispers in my ear, “Dude, is it in you? Don’t worry. Just do it.”

In prison, Daily Nexus columnist Nick Pasto’s new slogan is “Don’t drop the soap.”