Confessions of a Light-reading Poet

Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961. The sun also rises / New York : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926. PML 128141 Dust jacket

According to most of your rules manuals,
I’m a poor excuse for a writer.
I’ve read six books in the past year
and two of them were The Sun Also Rises.
I can’t write every day and
I don’t want to hear how you do.
Some say I’m a poet, though I believe I’m
a reborn storyteller who spins tales on paper
in busted up lines. Papa Hemingway,
Robert Parker and Ron Carlson taught me
how to fib like this. See, it’s a guy thing…
and the only way I can get away with lying
in this world full of women
who read between my broken parts.

The poetry I learned from no one, except
maybe a big lesson from old Bill Stafford
who said I didn’t have to be perfect, just lower
my phony idea of your standards and write.
It’s kind of like drinking beer, I guess.
So as a poet, I’ve become a minor league beer snob
who dislikes major league beer snobs.
Oh, and while I’m at it,
I believe canned cheese product
is both fine dining and a swell serving device.
I sing fairly well, but never in front of people,
so maybe I don’t. My dog Mollie ain’t saying.
She doesn’t care if she lies perfectly, either.

– Joseph Hesch

© 2016, poem, Joseph Hesch, All right reserved; illustration, under fair use, the cover of the first edition (1926) of Hemingway’s roman à clef, his first big novel, which established him as a preeminent 20th Century writer.


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