On Rejection

While I can feel myself once more repelled, turning against my own. I live my poems directly, immediately—that alone is my privilege and advantage. I get no break.

Enjoyable? Yes, really, but not right…though do go ahead and send more. No guidance, no direction, no encouragement. “It’s a new sad song / The empty piece / I still see it / The hole in its place / Unnamed, unseen / ‘Til you held it up to the light / You humored me.”

What is poetry to them…what potency and potential—

to the factory worker clocking in?

to the store clerk on a fifteen-minute break?

to the newscaster delivering the headlines?

to the teacher wading through dozens of papers?

to the family at the cinema Sunday afternoons?

to the mechanic during the extremes of summer and winter?

to the student putting off an assignment?

to the hired driver on a quiet evening?

to husband and wife parting for work?

to the farmer settling in for the night?

to the car dealer anxious for tomorrow’s sale?

to the boy counting on the forecasted snowfall?

to the patient awaiting surgery?

to the prisoner serving a short term?

to the banker obsessing over gain?

to the accountant unable to resolve a discrepancy?

to the parent afraid to discipline a child?

to the renter short on credit?

to the picker bent over in the field?

to the mortician preparing a stiff body?

to the actor rehearsing a monologue?

In what margins …along what periphery lies poetry? Why not have our words mean something to air and water, trees, vegetables, mountains, minerals, other animals, unknown species, bacteria?

“Long enough have you dreamed contemptible dreams, / Now I wash the gum from your eyes, / You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.”

Prizes, honorable mentions, nominations aside…what we are given by our credentialed, degree-bearing poets is contentedly insular and trivial. Mostly it denies craft. Mostly it refuses to gesture toward history, tradition, even to other poets. It has abandoned precedent. It is incapable of song, unfit for ceremony. It is not worth repeating.

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