“The yoke of Communism
has been lifted.” Congratulations!
You're free to speak and write
your mind, and no one will call you
a parasite. You could be a celebrity.
And that will be what they like,
not your writing. Who has the time
to read these days? And the one thing
all parties, Left and Right,
agree on, is poetry...who needs it?
In today's unfettered economy
your poems will have to compete
with “the popular arts,” i.e.,
reruns of I Love Lucy.
Not much of a public for you...
When they have a hundred channels
they'll want to be entertained,
not made to thinkm about “life”
and be sad and melancholy.
For, let's face it, that's what poems do.
You must forgo the meeting where you recited and the next day
“I know, ‘Unruly Horses’...
but what did it really say?”
You'll be pouring your infinite riches
out in a little room,
to a homeless person who snores
and a woman who misread the schedule.
She thought this week was someone else.
It's your turn now to discover
the answer to the riddle:
what's the sound of one hand clapping?
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 14 Number 1, on page 37
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