This Is the Poem That’s Going to Get Me Out of the Mines

This is one of my favorite prose poems of all time, a transcendentally self-mocking poetic creed that’s a delight from start to finish.

Jonathan did it. He teaches at a university in Washington now.
Or Oregon. I forget. But he said he gets fifty grand a year.
To teach creative writing. That’s like winning the lottery.
I make thirty grand and my lungs are turning into a collection
of twisted lies. I cough more than I think. I asked Jonathan
how he did it and he said he didn’t know. It was like God
napalmed him with luck. He got some award for a poem
about a goddamn lake and suddenly they pay him a thousand
dollars to read for fifty minutes in an auditorium filled
with students who don’t want to be there. I tell him to seriously
tell me how to do it and he said you have to make sure
there’s a lot of mist in the poem, that they can see the mist,
feel the mist, and then just go from there. He says that poets
love mist. They want so much mist in a poem that you can’t
see anything else other than mist and then from that mist
you have something really beautiful peek through and then
something really ugly peek through. But it can’t be too ugly,
he says, or you’re fucked. And he says don’t swear. He says
you want mist and beauty and a touch of ugly

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-Ron Riekki, Juked

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