John Grey poetry


Years ago, I wrote a letter to a famous poet.
Not a fan letter exactly.
More like a kind of ingenuous interrogation.
Why did you say this? Why did you end it that way?
I never received a reply.

I figured that a famous poet
was not like a movie star or singer with a string of hits.
I was under no illusions as to where poetry stood in
the artistic/entertainment pecking order.
Back in high school, when the bell rang,
my classmates and I exited poetry class
like we were citizens of Tokyo being threatened by Godzilla.
It took me the leap of faith equivalent of the triple jump
and a young woman’s saintly green eyes
before I could actually pin my sails to poetry’s mast.
And even then, it was the usual dead white crew that appealed to me.
A famous living poet? Bing bing bing bing.
The oxymoron alarm just went off.

So I reckoned he’d be chuffed as the English say
to receive that missive from me
even if it wasn’t a gushing paean to his work.
Now that I think back on it,
he might have considered it impertinent.
But I did provide my age.If I was writing out of turn
then surely my limited years on earth excused me.

That was the last time I wrote to someone in the public eye.
It was like sticking a message in a bottle
and tossing it over the railing of a cruise ship.
Or tying it to the toes of a pigeon
Or sending a poem about my Pekinese to the Paris Review.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy certain poets
but they don’t need to hear that from me.
And apparently they don’t even want to hear it from me.

So what’s the point of all this exactly?
It’s that, these days, I feel only sympathy
for that great poet, now deceased.
But maybe that isn’t the point. And why should there be one?
God, how I hate being asked to explain myself
even when it’s me doing the asking.