I sent my new poem to an old friend who replied:
“I know nothing of poetry.”
Another said about the same. “I don’t read the stuff.
Sorry.” It got me to thinking.
Had I sent in a stock tip, they would have rewarded me.
I might have received a bottle of Chablis, maybe even a good one,
had I sent in trading data on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.
Who would have said, “I’m not into making money.”?
But one comes to learn an awful truth about one’s friends.
Not just their indifference; that’s painful enough.
No. It’s that for them poetry is something akin to masturbation.
They don’t want to hear about it. It’s an embarrassment.
My friends are always buying or selling. If I had produced a tomato,
I’d have been advised to set up a stand on the sidewalk.
The price of tomatoes is high, asparagus even higher,
but poetry is nearly worthless; like trying to sell one’s teeth.
Poetry is not a commodity. My friends are merchants.
It’s a shameful action, like going to Confession.
Can you sell your sins? How much do one’s dreams weigh?
Nobody wants to watch a friend display himself.
It’s not that poetry is disgusting. But it may be shameful.
It’s seen as a waste of time: not an adult activity, not a good investment,
something more akin to gathering pine cones or pressing leaves in an album,
i.e., kid stuff, or a hobby for little old ladies.
I feel like a cat taking a bloody mouse to her master.
As I drop my poem at my friend’s feet, she gives it a glance
and sneers: “What’s that for? It’s not very pleasant.
Your job is to please me. Go play in the garden.”
That’s the response of my once best friend. She sees herself as an artist
or at least claims to be artistic. She wouldn’t treat a painting the way she scorns poetry.
But then again you can own an oil. You can hang it.
Even better you can resell it.
Stocks and paintings are good investments, like real estate.
Cars and furniture lose value, more like a poem.
They’re best when new, but with art, the worth is in its place,
they say. It’s not just beauty; it’s location, location, location.
Poetry is a dying art, especially when the artistic disown it.
They’d rather have crème brûlée or pear mousse with walnuts.
It’s not only prettier but something sweet. Poetry is no treat, and poets
are a nuisance. They have the absurd idea that what they do has value.
Paperback, 106 pages/Published September 1st 2017 by Sudden Denouement Publishing
David Lohrey was born on the Hudson River but grew up on the Mississippi in Memphis. He currently teaches in Tokyo. He has reviewed books for The Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register, has been a member of the Dramatists Guild in New York, and he is currently writing a memoir of his years living on the Persian Gulf. His latest book, The Other Is Oneself: Postcolonial Identity in a Century of War: 20th Century African and American Writers Respond to Survival and Genocide, is available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing