by Ruth Stone

Page 4

Let's see, I don't know whether to offer this. I have some poems about "The Poetry Factory," but I don't know whether you'll like them or not. Well, all right, all right, I will. They're very silly, though. They're called: "Some Things You Need to Know Before You Join the Union."

At the poetry factory
body poems are writhing and bleeding.
An angry mob of women
is lined up at the back door
hoping for jobs.
Today at the poetry factory
they are driving needles through the poems.
Everyone's excited.
Mr. Po-Biz himself comes in from the front office.
He clenches his teeth.
"Anymore wildcat aborting out there," he hisses
"and you're all blacklisted."
The mob jeers.

The antiwar and human rights poems
are processed in the white room.
Everyone in there wears sterile gauze.
These poems go for a lot.
No one wants to mess up.
There's expensive equipment involved,
The workers have to be heavy,
very heavy.
These poems are packaged in cement.
You frequently hear them drop with a dull thud.

Poems are being shipped out
by freight car.
Headed up the ramp
they can't turn back.
They push each other along.
They will go to the packing houses.
The slaughter will be terrible,
an inevitable end of overproduction,
the poetry factory's GNP.
Their shelf life will be brief.

They're stuffing at the poetry factory today.
They're jamming in images
saturated with as and like.
Lines are being stuffed to their limits.
If a line by chance explodes,
there's a great cheer.
However, most of them don't explode.
Most of them lie down and groan.

In the poetry factory
it's very hot.
The bellows are going,
the pressure is building up.
Young poems are being rolled out
ready to be cut.
Whistles are blowing.
Jive is rocking.
Barrels of thin words line the walls.
Fat words like links of sausages
hang on belts.
Floor walkers and straw bosses
take a coffee break.
Only the nervous apprentice
is anywhere near the machines
when a large poem
seems about to come off the assembly line.
"This is it," the apprentice shouts.
"Get my promotion ready!
APR, the quarterlies,
a chap book, NEA,
a creative writing chair,
the poetry circuit, Yaddo!"
Inside the ambulance
as it drives away
he is still shouting,
"I'll grow a beard,
become an alcoholic,
consider suicide."

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Last updated on March 10, 2008
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