Poem: dead poets

By: j.lewis


yes i know that cummings
also shunned upper case
and elliott wrote things simply complex
with endings that often stood
alone and apart, severed tails
staring bewildered at the body
of the poems that dropped them
unexpectedly on dirty london sidewalks

i am torn between the pleasure of swimming
deep in the poetry of browning frost and sandburg
keats and yeats and donne and more
whose names don’t come as readily to mind
torn because i know how easily i imitate
put on someone else’s clothes
sing songs in voices that were never mine
though not completely strange

there is a fear, founded or otherwise
that i will forget myself
fade into a poor reflection of poets past and passing
lose my own clear voice in the colors of countries
times and places i never knew

and so i am surprised when someone says
you write like so and so and is he or she or they
your true favorite idol, model, mentor in absentia

when the embarrassment, the redding of ignorance passes
i promise to be better— build on the foundation left
by every predecessor, even read a work or two
of the most recently quoted
but resolve proves sandlike
scattering in the winds of adversity
or sitting motionless under a complacent sun
and i, irresolute, begin another portrait
with the brush-and-oil words at hand
if i will not be burns, or milton, or millay
i must be j.


Categories: Poetry

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