Forty years is a hell of a long time
to know anybody, especially a poet.
Most poets—as you and I both know—
are so flighty and super-extra-sensitive
you can’t sneeze without a crying jag
or a fit of hysteria, narcissism, paranoia.
Yeah, I know, you’re reading this, paranoid
this sestina is about you and the time
you barfed on the floorboard of your boss’ Jag,
but he forgave you since he knew you as a poet
with a reputation of being so super-extra sensitive
you could sniff an atom of hostility with that nose
of yours, and then there’d be purgatory to pay and no
way to prevent narcissistic, hysteric, paranoid
antics from you, a soul so super-extra sensitive
that you forgot one day how to set the timer
for the concoction everybody knows as Poet’s
Pie in the shape of a book with a picture of a jag-
uar in the middle of a sneezing and crying jag.
No, this poem is not about or for anybody I know,
except that person who lurks in the ditch of every poet’s
head: the mush of narcissism, paranoia, and hysteria
all of us inhabit over the decades from time to time,
especially if we’re super-extra sensitive,
rather than what my mother called my siblings: sensible.
No, what’s sensible is never to step iambic feet into a Jag
or any other sports car unless it contains a bag of time
in its trunk and you, the driver, can say no
to your fixes of narcissism, hysteria, and paranoia
that you must have if you call yourself any kind of poet,
because you’ll do just about anything for another poem,
and you’re what’s termed super-extra sensitive,
also—you guessed it—narcissistic, hysteric, and paranoid,
even driving that birthday gift you bought, a candy-apple Jag,
for yourself, because you grew tired of telling yourself No,
and just couldn’t resist a motorized poem this time.
Thus, if you call yourself a poet, treat yourself to a Jag,
but remember that it’s super-extra-sensitive and has a nose
for narcissism, hysteria, paranoia, and—most of all—time.