On rereading an old essay lamenting the dearth of ambition in contemporary poetry. With apologies to actual prophets.
This poem, unlike so many,
It means to end war, alleviate hunger,
do justice, love mercy,
and appear in the best anthologies.
Morning after morning, it thwacks a keyboard with querying emails,
impressing its importance
on a dozen unpaid assistants at little magazines.
For it aims at prophetic greatness!
See, it enlarges itself, attaining mythic proportions.
Its grand ambition cannot possibly be missed
by upstart readers of slush piles.
Nor will hearers at readings dismiss it swiftly.
(Important readings, mind you. Publicized nationally.)
No, let them endure it for thirty minutes on aching haunches.
Throughout the daylong work, this poem aspires.
Though weary, it has not rebelled, has not turned back
from its great task.
And at day’s end, its hope is borne aloft
on the dream of a fresh headshot
destined to change the face of literature.