Perils of Poetry in a Pandemic

by Mathew Paust

Even the plethora of potential titles is dangerous--

alliteration obviously, for example,

sign of an amateur, except, of course

as an example.

Then again, all poets are amateurs,

all with day jobs

yet among the poets our elite must respect

those with hoi polloi celebration

are deigned the eyebrow arched in class distinction.

Yet it would seem if art's true value

is sublime surprise, and a lifting of spirit

across the species, both eyebrows

should salute those who do so,

salute them with unfeigned delight of friends.

And yet the elite and those aspiring to such height

can't seem to resist writing mainly for one another

baring inner whimsies and contradictions

with the cleverness of mystery writers

constructing puzzles only they expect to solve.

But back to perils of pandemic poetics,

in truth no different than others--

which words, which arrangements—No--start over

keep at it until something clicks, surprises,

brings something from deep within to life.

A friend today said, “I hate Emily Dickinson,” after posting

one of her poems on his Facebook page.

“Stream of consciousness, bah,” he went on.

Frankly, I, too, had trouble with “A Light Exists in Spring”

until, with a second reading, something clicked,

surprised me, brought something from deep within to life:

"A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament."

And I murmured, I think

Holy shit!”