Reading Modern Poets

I’m reading some modern poets
because somebody said I should
or perhaps it’s more true
to say that I’m glancing at them
peering through their lives
and between their verses

I really don’t care for poetry

but maybe there’s an interest
in the reasons why
they wrote this line or that
(if someone’s done an analysis)

or even better if they can tell me
what the writer was all about
in the middle of that night when
he or she should have been sleeping
instead of burning candles
and putting words around
a spark or a flame
before it sputtered or went out
or simply faded from mind
the way I find my thoughts do

but I really don’t care for poetry

and I hope they aren’t just dull and boring
people not fitted out for anything better
than a life by pen and ink
and fluffy words that try to sidestep
each obvious cliché and overworking of tired rhyme

I wonder if they read their poems in bar-rooms
to check the metre and the flow
under a half-spot light with a home-made lectern
that would make their pages fall down
all across the stage in the middle of a verse

and did they have an audience that listened
to what they said instead of only hearing
bursting Guinness bubbles or laughing out loud
at the drunk that always sits over there on poetry days
propped up in the corner and reciting Shakespeare
from the vaults of a thespian youth
and taking all my bows if there’s any clapping

I’m reading some modern poets
but I really don’t care for poetry
all that much

© Frank Prem, 2000

Appeared in PK List Featured Poets, December 2000

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