Ken Cormier

Poetry Doesn’t Need You

Poetry doesn’t need you to dress all in black, to shave your head bald, or to polish your boots
Poetry doesn’t need you to track all the times you’ve had dinner with Ginsberg or channeled Rimbaud
Poetry doesn’t need you to lift it up out of some half-perceived stupor or to rage at the
youth whose attention you’ve lost
Poetry doesn’t need you to jump out a window or to burn your lungs smoking or to carve up your skin
Poetry doesn’t need you to coax out its meanings or to tease out its strategies or to unpack its bags
Poetry’s doesn’t need you to pinch yourself, wind yourself, catch yourself spinning in spontaneous whorls
Poetry doesn’t need you to put forth sarcastic, bombastic, gymnastic, fantastic ecphrasis
Poetry doesn’t need you to emulate or imitate its grandest achievements or its infamous botches
Poetry doesn’t need you to wind it up, set it down, launch it or light it or warm up its hands
Poetry doesn’t need you to flirt with its dactyls or stroke its sestinas or unzip its pantoums
Poetry doesn’t need you to vibrate or widen your mindscope or suckle your cow sack or snuff up
your horn-blow or sweat out your insides or dredge up your backwash or kick in your face cloth
or chisel your eye-teeth or sink into quicksand
What poetry needs is a drink and a nap, and for all of its dinner guests—sipping on wine
and straining their mandibles—to finally choke on the bones in their throats.
And what poetry wants more than any one thing is a volume of poems that nobody wrote.


Ken Cormier
“Poetry Doesn’t Need You” appeared in 32 Poems Magazine, Fall 2008.