“Career Self-Assessment” by Dennis Caswell

Dennis Caswell


I can’t be an astronaut. I sneeze.
But thanks to my first-rate education,
I can apply for a job sitting still
all day, typing obsequious missives
to people who know the wrong things.
Many things I would not do
for love or money,
but nobody’s ever offered me
love and money. Somebody
give me a grant, so I can perfect
my unified theory of yearning.
It now seems clear that a single species
of infinisquishimal, thirteen-dimensional,
kinked-up nanohunger inspires my urge
to puree the brains of selected humans
while also imbuing me with the desire
to jauntily stroll down the avenue
declaiming More happy, happy love
to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.”
Now how much am I worth?
I suppose there’s a reason
I’m not a god, but can’t I just be
a little god, like Dinstipan,
Lithuanian god of directing
smoke up the chimney? But oh,
to live in a Jane Austen Manor
or Abbey or Park or Grange:
as long as you know that a bunch of larks
is called an exaltation, you get to marry
a birthday cake and spend your life
overseeing delphiniums, unless you belong
to ninety-nine percent of the population,
but we would never do that.
We’re all one percent of something, right?
And who needs tenant farmers, anyway?
We’ve got China! Once, a nice lady
who drove me home from church
asked me the hated, inevitable question:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
and just to shut her up I said,
“A frustrated artist.”

from Rattle #48, Summer 2015


Dennis Caswell: “I became a poet because I have a deep fear of becoming famous. Besides, novelists need to know things. You don’t have to know anything to write a poem.” (website)

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