One day a stranger asked me:
Can I write the perfect poem?
I replied: “Dear Sir,
What’s a poem to you?”
He told me all about what the teachers had told him
Long ago, in elementary school
That drill ideas about poetry
In impressionable, inexperienced, young minds.
I dare not repeat the definition,
The definition of poem we’ve all heard before
So his sentence I went ahead and finished
Before he had finished
Saying his words.
No, I’ve never written a perfect poem
Because so many think my so-called conceptions
Of something loosely poetic
Will never fit “those” ideas of what a perfect poem should be.
I used to strive for the perfect poem
And then one morning I listened
As they pulled it apart
And a perfect poem
Was no longer a possibility nor a want.
They began their deep, deep digging
Through the words and punctuation marks
For a meaning they’ll never find
So I set out to write the perfect hidden meaning,
A thing that I was afraid
That people would find out
Is nothing but an imaginary being.
What I never expected would happen,
When a new version, they began to read:
Was that I was so wrapped up in finding hidden metaphor
That cliché was their only reply:
I had lost my way and forgotten
The very thing I had set out to say.
That moment I knew I’m not interested in complex, hidden meaning
Was I really writing for?
That night I read people I admire,
Listened to music,
Went for a walk
In my local neighbourhood
To remind me of where it had all began.
I returned home, took out every last metaphor
Without metaphor it was what I wanted it to be.
No need for the perfect metaphor,
Only metaphor is the surface truth.
No I’ve never written the perfect poem
The way I know
And that is the only meaning I got.