What a Poem Wants

I decided to serve up some lighter fare this week.  An overly serious poetry workshop inspired this comic poem–and if you’ve ever  been forced to consider what a poem wants, this is your answer.  The poem originally appeared in the Chattahoochee Review.


In the workshop, students analyze
what each poem wants, what each one
strives to be.  Well, this poem is
a layabout with limited ambitions. It wants
a drink.

This poem doesn’t give a damn
for rhyme or reason. It only sings
off-key.  It has no rhythm
in the jukebox of its soul.
It grew up without symbols.
It doesn’t know from assonance.
Give it mambo lessons, and it
still won’t learn to dance.  It has
not one stanza with a lyric pedigree.
It’s late, and getting later, and this poem
wants a drink.

Call it gray and tired. Even call it
a cliché. This poem’s lived long enough
to know exactly what it means
to say: Don’t be stingy
with the whiskey, baby.
Yes, the night
has been a cruel one, and this poem
could use a drink.

–Karen Glenn


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5 Responses to What a Poem Wants

  1. claudia says:

    haha…oh that’s good…love it karen… think i like those poems that want a drink the most…happy to share my glass of red wine..smiles

  2. brian miller says:

    haha well by all means let me get it a drink…in the end at least it knows what it wants …and sometimes that says much…smiles.

  3. If your poem is in the mood for company, I have several that would like to join it.
    Love this! Never seen one quite like it.

  4. Kristina says:

    This is good! I like it. Sometimes poetry can get too serious. Although I often do like serious poetry, sometimes something lighter is needed.

  5. Love the Garbo reference from “Anna Christie” about the whiskey! You wrote with the type of abandon that can only come from a weekend of serious workshopping… I often write my funniest stuff after coming home from church with my pastor husband… you know? Great fun, and clever premise! Amy (and here’s one in that spirit)

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