To Be a Bad Poet

I’m sitting in poetry class with my homework assignment sitting in front of me: “Use a timer. Give yourself seven minutes to freely a poem with this as your first line…”

Seven minutes. I used up all of that time like it was honey and I had another hot cup of tea in front of me, not a drop was spared.

Looking around at my classmate’s paper, I noticed that seven minutes was a lot shorter for them. My paper, well papers, were filled three times over, theirs was barely once.

We took turns in groups of four to read our poems aloud, then to pick the best from the group to read theirs to the class. Mine got turned down first because it was too long: “I would have rather liked this as two separate poems.”

Two separate poems?! But how can you break apart a bond as tight as tea and honey? Mustard and ketchup? Small dogs and frilly purses? You can’t break that!

Haven’t you read Gertrude Stein’s poems? Most are at least three pages, and better yet, they make no sense! It’s great! That is poetry just as much as Emily Dickinson’s twelve line poems. Haven’t you ever heard that size doesn’t matter, it’s all about the motion of the ocean. My poem can create waves just as well as yours, and if size did matter, wouldn’t mine make more? Just saying.

So, sure, we can read the smaller poem by a classmate who confesses to giving up after three minutes into the assignment because seven minutes was too long and you have “stuff” to do. I’ll just remain a misunderstood Gertrude Stein in disguise.

This isn’t the poem I wrote for the assignment, just one I wrote quickly out of frustration.

To be a bad poet.

To rhyme and no one like it,

To not rhyme and no one feel it,

To give your all and no one to care for it.

To the bad poet.

Maybe you’re the kind

Who gets recognized when you’re dead.

The living just doesn’t get you yet.

Give them time, 70 years or so.

They’ll come around eventually,

Just keep writing.

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