If I could quit poetry, I would

I have a psychic friend

who reads people’s faces

we hadn’t met for years,

one day, upon seeing me again,

he said, “Why? You’re a poet now?”

there was regret in his tone,

so obvious I felt it stung me

(I wonder which part of my face

had changed “poetically” for him

to say that)

it was two years ago

when I only had a thin chapbook

of eleven pieces of rubbish

I was, socially, ashamed of

while watching my students

struggling with their exams,

I wrote a poem about sea of

rickety tables and chairs

cumulated in desperation with

little fish (the students)

jumping crazily;

my colleague, who teaches

poetry, asked me a copy of

the rubbish, looking at me

with admiration

[subtext: ‘don’t you have better

things to do?’]

love poems, rubbish poems,

a poem about a left shoe

a longing

still I can’t stop wondering

where it could go wrong

about being a poet

then, heartbroken poems,

why love seems so difficult

we’re sick of it if it’s too much

go crazy if it’s too little

too tiring but it seems like

we never really learn from

that that creates panic and tears

poems that cut –

an idea too un-American

they go against what my

creative writing professor said

“a good poem should end with

‘a light coming through the blinding.’

what do you call a poem that causes

its readers to jump to the river?”

I don’t know,

Gloomy Sunday?

chatting over the messenger with

a girl-friend of mine at dawn

basically killing each other with

mockery and dirty jokes,

guys around the globe, hair,

chests, and parodied love-making

rituals, joyfully, so it seemed

then at noon a call woke me

the same girl, weeping,

brokenhearted, telling me this

Fatal Attraction-ish thing

she’d just done in the name of


things like this

Aristotelian tragedy / comedy

in contemporary face –

a slanted mirror

if a poem can break, can another

mend? I know a couple can

not mine, I don’t know what mine

can or cannot do; I know how some

of yours are

then there’s Ted and Sylvia,

theirs are too fast, too burning,


on and off the paper

no, let’s not be Sylvia and Ted,

or anyone with such


is it so ill-fated to be a poet?

and then, in the shower just now

I remembered an idea of a poem:

cigarettes and me –

our ‘relationship’ – how it feels

smooth, certain, and everlasting

kind of on and off but


‘would it be much better if people can

love each other secretly forever?’

mmnn… it would create another

problem with consequences so scary

I quit the idea

still perhaps I can learn a thing

‘no rush, take it slow, let it flow’

…but it’s not exactly the same!

yeah right, to be a poet

what world’s problems can you solve?

if I could quit poetry, I would


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