Pen and paper





I showed my poems
to a real poet
and he said they were crap.
He did not mince his words.

“What are these?” he asked.
“My poems, sir,” I answered.

He raised his eyebrows
and looked at the pile of papers
on the table
while sipping his latte.
He picked up a couple of pages,
scanned them briefly,
and spewed the dark liquid
from his mouth.

“You call these poetry?” he exclaimed.
“Why, yes, sir,” I said, a little offended.
“They are fruits of desires,
heartaches, pain, and joy.”

“I’ll tell you what they are,” he said.
“If you want my honest opinion, here it is:

“They’re crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.
That’s what they are. Crap.
I repeat, crap. Did you hear me? Crap.
Why don’t you write
a poem about what I just said
and call it “crap”?
It will still be crap, of course,
but it will be an honest sort of crap,
not pretentious crap.”

He might as well have slapped me in the face.

I said, “But what’s wrong with them, sir, specifically?”

“What’s wrong with them?
What’s wrong with them?
Are you mad? Or just plain obtuse?
Everything! Everything’s wrong with them!
Specifically! Bah, how about generally!
The nerve. The audacity. ”

“But,” I said. “Are they totally hopeless? Totally

“Oh, indeed! They are absolutely hopeless.
There’s nothing in them to salvage.
They are completely useless, terrible,
wretched, and hideous.
Here’s a piece of advice, buddy
(And you better take heed):
The best thing to do now is to throw
them away,
or feed them to a paper shredder
and burn them.
That’s right, they are best destroyed
and expunged from your
memory (And mine, truth be told).
Please, have mercy, and don’t show
these to anyone ever again,
least of all to one like me.”

I bowed my head.

“You disgust me,” he said, and left the cafe.

The barista patted my shoulder
as if to comfort me
and handed me the poet’s bill.


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