You want this poem to be serious
And hold the correct opinions,
To flatten itself onto a placard
You can display at a protest march,
Affirming what you affirm, condemning
Whatever offends your sensibilities.
It offends your sensibilities to find the poem
In a night-club, sipping its third martini,
Getting excited by breasts
And laughing at off-colour jokes.
You want this poem to be holy,
A sacramental chant for the high holidays,
The kind of poem that goes by itself into the forest
Or the desert, and sits on a rock with its legs crossed,
Desiring neither to move nor to be moved.
It bothers you to come across the poem
On an ordinary weekday,
Wearing an old pair of jeans
And a thinning t-shirt,
Stealing the flowers from a public garden.
You want this poem to be better than it is,
To speak only the finest words
And think only the finest thoughts.
It’s just as well that you didn’t hear the poem
Saying ‘fuck’ in front of your children
As it watched your wife
Making up the bed in the spare room.
It would only have made you angrier
Than you already are, and destroyed whatever
Illusions you might still harbour about this poem.
© Mark Milner, Vancouver