Too Many Poems
...the trouble with poetry is
that it encourages the writing of more poetry...
My friend tells me there are already
too many poets, too many poems.
“Yeah?” I say,
“It’s much worse than you think.
According to quantum theory,
every time someone writes a line,
a new branch opens in another universe,
where the same poet has written
a different line, maybe a better one,
and the branches keep, well,
branching out toward infinity.
Not just infinite poems, but infinite
variations on the same line,
orders of magnitude of the infinite!”
My friend looks ill, so I sit him down
as far from my laptop as I can get,
pour him a scotch, pour him another.
Outside it’s finally dark.
The stars have come out, and we watch
the Milky Way, grateful that it rhymes
with nothing, stands for nothing but itself.
I know I irritate you sometimes,
with my wild stories — a father
who dances with shadows
in the street, a mother,
who keeps rising from the grave
bearing roses and chrysanthemums.
Forgive my uneasy dreams.
It’s only that I believe you exist,
imagine you there listening,
leaning against a wall,
or lounging in a comfortable chair
reading or shaking off sleep.
Who could blame you for that?
I see you so clearly, your sweet
face turned towards mine
with a mouth shaped in wonder,
hands struggling to keep time,
a hectic look burning in your eyes.
What I Meant to Say
When I said whisper, I meant the rustling of leaves,
birds on bare branches, a voice in a dream.
When I said April, I meant the tender shoots of grass,
a colt’s whinny, the taste of peaches and plums.
When I mentioned bad jokes, I was referring
to a tendency of the universe to make me feel small,
or foolish, like when I put my shirt on inside out
or go to work with slippers on my feet. I use the word
poem to imply something about language, but I’m
not sure what. Maybe it has to do with glow worms
or men playing trumpet on a city street.
Kindness, you can be sure, is not a word I would
ever use, so I must have meant chocolate or a dram
of Irish cream. For archive read woody glen or waterfall
or chapel in the Greenwood, where high school kids
go to drink and set off cherry bombs. You can tell
I’m in a strange mood, which happens when I spend
too much time looking at my palms. When I said
directions, I probably meant something like reservoir
or kidney beans. But meaningless things are just that —
objects orbiting a planet where the phones have gone dead.
"Let us intoxicate ourselves on ink, since we lack the nectar of the gods."
Steve Klepetar lives in the Shire (Berkshire County, in Massachusetts, that is). His work has appeared widely and has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. He is the author of fourteen poetry collections, including Family Reunion and The Li Bo Poems.
SteveKlepetar is waiting out the winter and the pandemic in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
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