Monday, February 1, 2010

Want to be a Poet? [Working copy.]

You don’t have to be rape victim,
or born of an alcoholic, bi-polar mother
or a cruel father with tuberculosis and a prosthetic leg.
You don’t have to have a drug habit or be a drunk,
and you don't have to be on the weed or the weenie.
You don’t have to carve lines in your arms with a razor,
or a broken piece of mirror in the girl’s lavatory.
You don’t have to be a clapped-out skank
or always pissed off.

You have to love words, be honest,
have some intelligence, have something real and honest to say
in your own voice,
and able to scoff at criticism.
Your friends won’t know what to say when they read you,
And you won’t have the nerve to ask them to.
You should want to write, not want to be a writing success.

You have to be in the mood. It’s the mood that comes after I read a good poem, or hear something in the street; like the day some kid in a Future Farmers jacket yelled, “Hey, you bag of dicks!”, to another guy in the parking lot.
It was the day before I wrote a new poem.

Sometimes you can read a line of the newspaper, and the poem
jumps out at you. A ready made.
Sometimes, half-awake, feet on the floor, sitting on the edge of the bed, scratching
rubbing your eyes,
words jump out at you;
you have to remember them until
you scribble them on the back of an envelope.

Imagine the pipsqueak editor
reading the title
or one line of your poem and sending you a rejection.
An english major, barely thirty, wearing a sweater vest
and white tennis shoes. Doesn’t know who
you are or where you’ve been,
shit cans your poem
and sends you
a thanks
but no thanks.

Bukowski said “…if it never does roar out of you, do something else…”
Like work at the post office, or find a job with the county.
If anyone asks what you do
look them in the eye, and say
you’re a poet.

If anyone asks what you’d rather be doing right now,
say revising a poem for the last time.

[Thanks for the inspiration, Mr. Bukowski.]

1 comment: