Poems have a way of getting under your skin. They taunt you, cajole you, and often fill your mouth with feathers as they push against your breath, suffocating you with their honesty. Yet, poems are only the output, and the writing of poems the craft. The poem may be the serum, but the alchemist is the poet with his or her uncanny ability to weave a tempting, provocative, and at times beautiful web from the lies and truths we tell ourselves. Poets are extraordinary tattlers, seducers, connivers, historians, and soothsayers using words to betray the quirk, attribute, or flaw that is humanity. Poets never have to apologize for the impact, obscurity, or enigma of their work, because after all, a poem is expected to be all those things, yet forever elusive.
For that, I often wish I were a poet, and as a poet, I would be the laureate of the improbable. My poems would shed light on the transparent cellophane filaments floating in front of one’s eyes when focus is shifted or would disperse the million of swirling black dots that threaten the conscious, lightly taken for granted. I would assemble the poets of the broken and the poets of the broken-hearted; together they would tether a lifeline for the insolvent and the hopeless, guarding against the imminent repossession of their souls. The truth-telling poets would be invited to join the poets that are eager to tell tall tales and together they would pull the covers off of each other and let their words mix and we would revel in how little space there is between good and evil. Their poems would fly like the feathers from a pillow fight and we would all take a moment to see where they might land before they take their next hit at each other.
Cowboy poets would be bunkmates with urban poets and rhyme and rhythm would slam with grime and grit obscuring the night’s stars with the bright lights of celebrity. The love poets would lend me Cupid to send posies to the lonely and the eulogists would slyly send requiems to those haughty and filled with hubris. The rappers would be invited to the party along with the balladeers and their prolific output would become an opera of the prim and profane.
Amidst the cacophony and chaos, this improbable poet laureate would tackle Wall Street and send battalions of poets to board rooms, finance meetings, and Congress. Each meeting would begin and end with a poem that chronicles the truths and lies of the proceedings and the Wall Street Journal would publish all as a permanent record of our collective fiduciary soul. I would find ways for the clerihew to collide with the haiku giving us the “cleriku,” and on every other street corner a poetry bar would be serving up double dactyls and we would have a curbside cento exchange every Tuesday. And, perhaps most important of all, as my year as the improbable poet laureate came to a close, I would take solace in the knowledge that cat poems finally overtook dog poems in popularity.