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Poem a Day December #14

Sorry for failing you yesterday. What can I say? I reckon it’s not the first time a poet has left you hanging. And knowing myself as I do, I reckon it won’t be the last.


Here is one taken from last year’s Southampton Writers Conference. As you will see, it stems not so much from something Billy Collins said as from something I thought he said.


Fish Cock


A fellow poet once suggested that poetry

heals all ills, which got me thinking—

wouldn’t it be nice if one of the benefits

of growing old as a poet, was that,

simply by writing of what ails you,

the symptoms would disappear?


And, let’s throw in for good measure,

the added benefit of the healing power

of poetry applying to the work itself,

taking mere doggerel

and turning it into

true art.


Pulled up lame legging out

a grounder to short? No problem,

just put it in a poem

and you’ll be back on your feet in no time,

and the poem will be

published in the New Yorker.


Strain your back while bending over

to pick up your pen, which fell

behind your desk in a moment

of deep reflection? Just get it onto the page,

and the pain immediately vanishes as the royalties

from the new book start to roll in.


Or, as happened to me earlier today,

while sipping wine and chatting with

the former Poet Laureate of the United States,

Billy Collins, mishear the subject of a poem

about a fish clock? Just excuse yourself,

ask the bartender to pour you a double,


and head into the air-conditioned lecture hall

to deliver your new masterpiece about a well-hung,

septuagenarian fish that, drunk on wine,

had tripped over his dick one night,

throwing out his hip and making a fool of himself

at the annual Fish out of Water Conference.


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