“Let me confess. I’m sick of these sestinas
written by youngsters in poetry workshops
for the delectation of their fellow students,
and then published in little magazines
that no one reads, not even the contributors
who at least in this omission show some taste.”
(Dana Gioia, “My Confessional Sestina”)
No, I won’t be joining your little club, your cabal, even
if you’d have me, which I doubt- not for me a clique of
clueless recluses where palace police pummel penitent
plebeians while aloof academics and addled anarchists
run rampant, the patricians of their privy council proclai-
ming that if a work is obscureincoherentincomprehensible
then it must be …genius.
Still, congratulations are in order: you’ve gerrymandered
your own alternate reality- such an isolated little isle of
incest- and proudly proclaimed this polity POETRY, a
bulwarked bastion for the martially metered, woefully woke,
the scattered, stilted and stunted, while you slam the gate
on every apostate, scissor kick every maverick, apply the
screw to any idea that’s new.
Since when must a poem have the rubric of a Rubik cube,
why does it take a nuclear physicist with a doctorate in
chaos theory or a malingering Mensa Society member to
decipher and dissect that muddled puzzle called a ghazal
and just who banished simple rhyme and meter, punishing
us peasants for our preference for unpretentious poems:
We inarticulate hicks actually like limericks—they’re slick,
impolitic,a quick fix with no fancy tricks.
When did the slow seductive tango between poet and reader
devolve into Gen Z’ers pretendingwishing we were still in the
19th century or expressing their rage in algorithm-based Red-
Bulled rhumba rants intended to make the rest of humanity
feel guilty and when did the heart-rending expression of
emotion through simple evocative phrases become passé,
too pedestrian, an insufficient barrier to keep the unruly riff-
raff from entering POETRY’s portals so you didactic despots
concocted building codes no common contractor could
decrypt or comply with to construct the castle of his or
her dreams…but bullies beware—
Bards in bondage, hear my call-
we’re tunneling under POETRY’S wall.
No longer will we cringe and cower,
kowtow to that censorious glower.
We peasants are united as one-
the struggle for liberty has begun.
We raunchy but real rap rebels, screw the grammar jack-
hammer slammers and the spurred herd of the spoken word
reject renounce and will raze your McMansion of medieval
mores, your abominable abode of atavistic attitudes. We
believe in feelings unalloyed facilely deployed, uncluttered
by cryptic allusions to Bosnian Baroque bronzes or Rococo
oboe oratorios—and accessible, comprehensible to the
We have veneration for the titillation of alliteration.
We don’t look askance at assonance- a poem is
We don’t give a damn if you enjamb, don’t need
the bravura about your caesura.
We never eschew the haiku— syllables few, the
message gets through, what a coup.
We fume in gloom and break out the broom for
We sound the death knell for that boring-as-hell
We subpoena the sestina—guilty of poetic edema.
So it’s a fight to the death, my coalition against your coterie,
plebeians against pedantic posers. I hereby humbly declare
the establishment of THE PEOPLES’ REPUBLIC OF POETRY