Volume 22, Number 3

The World of Poetry

To the ex-Vice President of my college, who asked me, “How’s the world of poetry?”

Can you imagine it?
A place where poets governed and the pen
was truly mightier than the sword,
where mythic creatures spent their twilight years,
and all the old clichés were put to pasture?
Christ, nothing would get done at all.
Or perhaps, when you asked me how things
were in the world of poetry,
you were referring to the desolate ghetto
on the outskirts of the American media landscape
poetry currently occupies in the real world,
on the shelves of our vanishing
libraries, where copies of the “classics”
go untouched as the graves of their authors.
And in our classrooms, where the corpses are unearthed
and the marrow sucked from their bones.
Or maybe you were referring
to the world of poetry that Americans
often call the third world,
where shoes cost two days’ wages,
but poetry is free and words
are all the people have against the tyranny
of despots and their swords.

—Matthew Nadelson