how to become a poet

at your first poetry workshop try
not to fabricate who
you are, admit to strangers
you’ve lied your whole life, turn
your name tag over to the blank side
because your helmet of bone
won’t let you out
without a very public fight

read aloud your bad poetry and try
to ignore the cool, almond-eyed girl
wearing cat-glasses who reminds you
of the painter in high school the last time
you were rejected by artists

over the coming days, tune your sight
to signs and symbols, see truth
in the hunch of a crow’s shoulder
as it looks down upon its prey

and don’t be ashamed of exercises: a color, a body
part you dislike, a season, a flower, the first
song that comes into your mind. put a poem
together in five timed minutes
then you can edit

read lots and lots of good poetry, cultivate
the lack of punctuation, harvest
the line breaks and think
about meaning, coming at you
sideways, rethink the method
and surrender

soon better poems with wingspans
will soar and be graceful
or not. words may simply
shuffle in and form
smelly squatter communities

but never mind, learn
to get out of the way
and borrow from your peers, everyone
does it and when the poets make fun
of Leonard Cohen join in what the hell
there’s no turning back now
you can’t live without them
and their mind games

you will know you have arrived when
you argue with an established poet because
damn it his ego is spilling its banks
and he deserves to be
challenged and no you’re not
jealous of his success
or the way his writing sounds
like a river gushing
way down in a canyon, you think
he’s simply faking
an unlimited stream
of consciousness and in reality
his words are nonsense
scribbles, his pencil chawing away

at the page to intimidate, lord
it over that he’s got ten
chapbooks published and another
two on the way

by the end of the workshop you
will know foolishness but decide there
are better things than fitting in
on the same day as the cool, almond-eyed girl
tells you with a sigh of resignation
you are a poet

feel the love

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