Sunday, August 29, 2010


Epigraph--"A leader has to lead people somewhere." from Francis Coppola's film RUMBLE FISH (1983)


When I joined the poetry army,

I should have remembered

that an army is an army
no matter whether it fights
with words or weapons.

No insubordination.

Keep your mouth shut.
Follow the leaders

at any given moment--

no, make that

at every given moment.
Take the morsel of bread;
the leaders think enough of you
not to leave you completely hungry.

I must have received

the wrong training manual.

I show too much mercy

to those poetry privates

considered mediocre

when I should be stabbing away

with my bayonet forged from

the steel of superior talent

(for excellence to thrive).

But at the same time

I'm expected to cull out the lower orders,

I must realize

that only the generals and colonels

in the poetry army

are allowed to denigrate everyone below them.

Any challenge to the officers

always leads to the firing squad.

I'm too in love

with the posibility of promotion

to resign my commission.

So I keep my mouth shut.

So I freeze my too-tender heart.

So I obey orders both good and bad

and get with the program

(which changes every few years)

led by whatever current general

that's been elected

by the temporary whim

of the Joint Chiefs of Verse

at the Pentagon of Art.

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