This poem is a surly waiter.
It keeps spilling drinks
all over the customers.
But it will still find its way
to fifteen different editors
in case one of them is thirsty enough
to appreciate the lick
of martini from pants leg.
It’s also a poem just home
from the war zone.
It fears to tread.
And it’s been shot at.
Luckily, they missed.
What you have is a survivor
of some very bad days
in a territory where
no one has a good word for poetry ever.
Dear fifteen poetry editors,
if you hold it in your hand long enough
it will stop trembling.
For this poem was dragged from a river.
It was put back together after a fall
from a ten story apartment building.
It survived a fire –
one it started actually.
This poem knows some people,
some that the fifteen editors might also know.
None of them are poets.
In fact, one of them is serving time.
It stays so close to its roots
it eats dirt.
Suppose an editor stuck his arm
in a hole all the way up to his elbow
and something bit his bare flesh.
It would be this poem.
And it’s an old black and white movie.
All the actors are dead.
It’s a swamp and a swan song.
It’s like a seed that swirls at the moment
that the birds catch wind of it,
I am sending it to every editor
whose name I can spell
and I believe is a good man or woman.
It’s this stone I passed – the tears of a lesser God –
a sip of excellent Java –
of course it’s poor.
And it’s an orphan, once I mail it.
There are fifteen editors out there somewhere
whose lips will freeze, who’ll save ten bucks on a haircut,
who can name fully half of the US presidents,
because this poem pops into their in-box.
I wrote it because it wrote itself.
I send it away
so we all won’t hurt as much.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Big Muddy and Sanskrit with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Mudfish and Louisiana Literature.