You can write a poem and feel so good about it
That you’ll do something else for money
Practice medicine (Williams), work in a bank (Elliot), act (Shakespeare), work in a post office (Bukowski), open your own bookshop and get yourself arrested for publishing someone else’s poem (Ferlinghetti)
Or teach, teach, teach and teach some more.
Sell your soul a little
Or a lot.
And while you’re at it, annoy those you live with,
make a beast of yourself, as Samuel Johnson said, so you can get rid “of the pain of being a man”
or a woman
or anything else that writing seems to justify and relieve.
You can bring suffering to those who are drawn to you, who put up with you, who will read your poems when, what they really want you to know is
life is mostly okay as it is, you’re okay as you are.
You want to tell them about a poem that meant everything, that had all the answers, that said what was in your heart so perfectly
Or seemed to, at the time.
You want to tell them that a poem can save a life!
So tell them. Let them know that you’re not writing poetry.
You’re saving your life.
Saving pieces of yourself, like coins in a piggy bank
Pictures in an album
Things you find, collect and preserve,
Not because they’ll be valuable some day
But because they make it easier for you to be okay as you are.
And be a little bit more than a beast
Most of the time.