The Poet’s Trap

I must avoid becoming a cliché poet.
Not just the use of cliché phrases
Do I fear
But a cliché mode
Cliché thought
Cliché meaning that has ever been meaned
In a thousand different wrappers,
Recognizably, uniformly unlike.

To use the ‘in’ style
Is saying
“I need the praise of poets
Who despise me.
My poetry hasn’t beauty enough
To be sung freely
But demands the trusted testimonial
Of sounding like, feeling like, thinking like
Those great ones in Bloom’s anthology.”

I know I probably stink
At this poetry thing,
Am just a washed up, regurgitated Tennyson
Without achieving his mastery,
And all this is a self-justification
To go on stinking,
To muddle on mediocrely.
And when, thirty years after my death
They find my unpublished works in a briefcase somewhere
Screaming out for breath, to be known and read and
They’ll know this
And will feed The Complete Works of Josh Hansen
To the shredder, then the recycle bin,
To be mashed and slopped and reconstituted
As a forty-percent post-consumer content
Drink holder
For some burger chain,
Where a child will sit, eating
Grease-steeped potatoes
Not knowing how close he came
To suffering the irrevocable damage of
Bad Poetry.

Yes, that’s what they’ll do
And let them do it
If that’s the price
Of saying, doing, sounding,
Different Poetry.
Yes, let them do it.
And now I fade
With my meanings perhaps as-yet unmeaned
Into significant


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