A Safe Distance

by Jerry Ratch

There's always a poem that gets

left out in the cold,

an only child standing last in line

without a friend to hold his hand


No one knows his name

because he wasn't considered important

and maybe his name started with Z,

someone like Zimmer, or Zebra


and he had to grow garish black and white stripes

to be noticed at all

or acquire a peculiar odor maybe

like a skunk


and suddenly everyone runs

screaming from the room

and he moves up silently

to the head of the line


and eats all the sweet cakes

like the adorable, smiling little angel

he has suddenly become

as seen from a safe distance


Poems, who needs them? Maybe it was because no one

wanted them that I gave them away so freely

Maybe no one ever, in our time, really felt

they needed  to have one, to stay alive