The Business of Poetry

I’m in a meeting about meetings.
Someone is talking about needs:

“…Clear purpose…
…Keep to agenda…
…Stick to schedule…
…Out on time…
…Take notes…
…Dress code…”

I note, doodle, jot down words,
drop seeds of wild silly weeds
into the creamy hirsute carpet;
someday the seeds will sprout

…into poems…

the night janitor will sweep up.

The priest talks of the need for prayer in despair.
The scholar talks of the need to be read by peers.
The senator talks of the need for dough and polls.
The bag lady quietly appeals for a change of where.
The therapist theorizes the need of rest from care.
The bartender talks of the need for a road to hear.
The mother yells just wait until your father comes
home, until the evening comes when Dad disappears.

Who knows the source of this need from long ago,
the need for poems and to live like a fat soiled pig
sloughing off in a muddle puddle wallow of words,
but the meeting adjourns with predicable promises
of more to come, of more to come, of more to come,
and someone breaks an egg over the speaker’s head:
a detailed SWOT Analysis called for pastry and pie,
but the speaker is silent, not a word, about poetry.


  1. Brilliant poem. Reminds me of years of similar. I’m out of it. In the meetings I go to nowadays we talk about distraction and the like … :)


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Yes, I read your post on distraction. Very good. Probably there are many different kinds of meetings, from Robert’s Rules of Order to Quaker Process. John Cage may have been thinking of distraction when he said silence is noise, but when we focus on the noise we did not intend, we find the distraction interesting, even pleasurable.


  2. Arthur says:

    Sad sad the bitter wail: never a word
    Of poetry.


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Hey, Arthur!…Thanks for reading and comment. But why are we only “almost persuaded”? To wail suggests to fail? But almost is at least the acceptance of imperfection, where to insist on perfection is to be disappointed, as Cornell West explains in “Examined Life.” I’m afraid almost is as close as I can get. Maybe, like Rilke and his angel, the fire is just too hot. But you’re onto a wonderful poem of your own there. Post away! But I’m infamous for misreadings, and poetry can wail or soothe the wail, like jazz, but without a word of it, we’ll never know, but anyway, here’s something else that comes to mind, the almost suggests it, from Ezra Pound’s Canto XCIII (I don’t know why the light is not solid, but just almost):
      “The black panther lies under his rose-tree
      J’ai eu pitie des autres.
      Pas assez! Pas assez!
      For me nothing. But that the child
      walk in peace in her basilica
      The light there almost solid.”


  3. Dan Hennessy says:

    Good one . I like this one . I shared this one on my Facebook .


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Thanks, Dan. I made a couple of changes. WordPress is tricky when formatting line breaks and indentations and the sort of thing you might like to do if you’re into making poems. The lines look one way when you type then into the post but come out differently when you hit the publish button. Probably not anything most folks really care about, little nuances of typographical stuff. But it’s just fun to try messing around with it. I discovered via WordPress help not too long ago that if you hit the return key while holding down the shift key you get a line break without a paragraph break, big moment for poetry! And I added that last line, not sure I should have. Might need to shear it off. But that’s not a WordPress problem. One of the problems with writing poems is anticipating when the reader might have had enough. Of course some readers – “that’s enough!” – but I haven’t said anything yet. “I know, and that’s enough!” I feel that way myself sometimes. delete, delete, delete. Sheear, sheear, sheear. Fleece! Fleece!


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