THE NEXT TIME YOU WRITE A LIST POEM

1. (Found Poem from Various Sources)

I've forgotten how to play the violin,
how to scrape and abrade
and how from that scraping and abrading
draw moments of beauty and delight
or sadness and longing or
the sound of a cat in its death throes.
And I've forgotten the method you taught me
of retaining essence of rainbow into old age;
this forgetting occurred as the music slowly disappeared
down the drain into the sewers and far out to sea.
I've forgotten how to fly;
my wings are turned to stone.
I've forgotten what to do with all these mirrors.
I've forgotten that dragons are the new unicorns
and serpents are as trustworthy as most men.
I forget what I learned about how to tell the difference
between a kingdom close at hand
and distant realms of the imagination.
I've forgotten all about etiquette and decorum
and who to love and who to stay away from.
I've forgotten so much,
even how to say what one so desperately wants to say,
even what one wants to say.

2. (To a Gentleman Rumoured to be a Horse Thief)

The next time you write a list poem
that sounds like one of my list poems
please put my name at the bottom of it. Thank you.
I think all sources should be acknowledged like
when a river begins to flow and it can't be stopped
like a mouth that can’t be closed or an avalanche
that can’t be outrun. I know those are bad whatyamacalls
but I'm trying to be original. Sometimes don’t you think
mere disgrace is a bad idea and a hot iron on the rump
more a suitable weapon of choice for people
who don’t really fit anywhere?

Society pisses me off and solitude
both enforced and adopted seems these days to be
a more comfortable way of life. There are between
no and two people I can comfortably live with now
and in their absence I have some spare chairs
and room in my bed for impossible imaginary friends.
I know this chunk doesn’t really fit here but
there's nowhere else for it to go.

The next time you write a list poem
that sounds as if I wrote it then threw it away
please put a footnote at the bottom of the page
with my name and address and phone number
so people can call me and see if I'm still alive
and not been replaced by a machine. I think
all imitations should be acknowledged and
the only thing stopping me from naming names is
discretion. Sometimes don’t you think a new career
would be better than continuing a mere scrivener?
I've often thought that restraint is an undervalued
grace. Anyway, thank you for your time. I know you
are busy with dictionaries and photocopiers and the like.

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