The Patron Saint of Failed Writers

At the recovered poets’ meeting

we discovered one in our midst

who’d continued writing

and tossed him out the door.

I secretly met him later, in the street,

his face obscured by raindrops

weeping from his hat brim,

and asked him what he would choose

for his life: Say my poems are a poet’s

and they are poetry. Can I wish for something more?

Say my work is lost in mold-corrupted boxes

in my mother’s basement, comic books

covering like a grave’s leaf blanket;

Say my poems are a universe

built inside my own. Say anything you want

about me, and still I’ll drown

in my cracked windbreaker, in the $200 bucks

to my name. His mother dies

and the house goes to the IRS

and the rest he gambles away in AC

at the thousand-per-hand poker tables.

With what little he has he buys

a tent, and pitches it in the woods

off Route 18. Begins to write

poems by night, a flashlight

in his teeth, drool smearing the ink.

One moonless night, the autumn earth

still leaking the sun’s warmth,

six bum-hunting teens arrive from town.

They collapse his tent

and beat him with pipes and pillowcases

stuffed with unopened soup cans.

After his screams devolve to grunts,

they string gasoline across his body,

flick a match, and stroll home,

pipes on their shoulders, their hands red

in the chill, while behind them, his poems swirl

like bats above a burning heart

bursting from the forest in a bruising dawn;

in nothing like words; above words; words.

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2 thoughts on “The Patron Saint of Failed Writers

  1. Now I know why your well of good record review lines is endless. Did this stem from your annoyance at the NYT book list? I can’t get into Lahiri either. Who needs domestic fiction when you live it already?

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  2. Dunno where that came from. Pissed off at some bad poetry earning money out there.That’s Lahiri exactly. Only once in my life did I agree to attend a book club; this was on the request of someone whose lit opinion I respected. Same someone tricked me (and the group) into reading Lahiri’s ‘The Namesake’ for the first group, and after I refused to comment further than <>Jesus, the ‘you just can’t go home again theme?’ yaaaaaawn<> on that boring soap opera book, I wasn’t invited back …

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