All of the students in the class know the rules concerning verbs.
Our teacher laughs at them -
both the students and the rules.
“Here’s the things with rules.
Try to cobble the existing rules to
the secret to following rules
which is to be aware of them
and then break them in a selective manner.
“Mow walk turn
Mow talk turn.
We have no idea what she’s talking about,
but we’re fairly sure it’s complete and utter horseshit,
even though none of us know the difference between
a metaphor and a simile. We’re still at adjective-noun stuff
and we’re nowhere near ready for
verb-verb-verb-verb-conjunction-preposition type of poetry.
That’s for the advanced class that knows it’s probably horseshit,
but has the sophistication to appreciate it.
We’re only here because we’re in a pilot program
where small-timers in lieu of incarceration
get put on parole, but have to take and pass
a not-for-credit poetry class. I guess they made
Walt Whitman a judge or mayor or something.
But our teacher’s been published just about everywhere.
She has 12 books of poetry to her name.
She has tenure.
She has tenure in spite of what she’s published.
She makes no sense whatsoever,
but she gets very high scores on student evaluations
possibly because she brings high-grade hashish
to each class and shares it with us
and encourages us to smoke it openly.
It’s a shame, because I can’t smoke pot.
The two times I’ve done it
it’s made me unbearably aware of how
small and insignificant I am
and everyone and everything else is
and it’s just one long scary scream
and when my head isn’t turning in on itself
I ache for a spaceship to get me off this
suddenly crowded planet or a potion
to get me out of the trap of being stuck
in my one and only life and the every morning
horror of the continuity of the self -
something to make me someone else
“Poetic language is based on rhythm,”
the she says, tapping her bowl
against her ankle, near a tattoo of what
first appears to be the Black Flag bars,
but on closer inspection are just bar codes,
which relives me to no end,
then refilling the bowl
and taking a longlonglonglong hit.
“Follow the meter here.
It’s one of my own poems from my book
‘Limericks for the Most Likely to Die Young and Beautiful’”
“A monkey with wino-like sobriety
When forced to be sober shows anxiety.
Shoots horse for his cure
As he floats through the door
Says, ‘Sorry, I’m just not meant for piety.’”
now hold your arms out,
I’m going to jump into them!”