Calling All Poets Laureate

A Texan amendment
to the arts budget
surprises everyone:
a Poetry Lodge
in the nation’s capital.

The artist’s rendering
is out of Beowulf:
a great mead hall
on the National Mall,
where bards convene,
drink tankards of ale,
and pot after pot
of exotic tea.
Workshops and readings
around the clock;
marathons even,
for those who can stand it.

It opened this month,
yet something is wrong
with this Tudor palace.
The Poet Laureate
is already in there,
and won’t come out.
The laureates of states,
of cities and colleges,
have come, and entered.
Busloads of applicants
push at the double doors
waving their MFA diplomas.
In they go by the thousands. 

There’s a stage in the middle,
and an open mic,
yet no poets come forward.
They are stuck to the walls,
feet locked on the carpet.
Wallpaper grabs them
like vampire Velcro.

A giant eye glares
through the leaded glass
window. The place is packed,
a web of younger poets
undulating like tapestry,
the older poets in groups
like the Elgin marbles,
pushing forward
but going nowhere.

The voice on high intones:
Just as we intended.
Poet Motels:
Poets check in,
but they don’t check out.


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