“Poet and Audience” by Erik Campbell

Erik Campbell


I. The Argument: You Wondered Why You Weren’t Published

It’s because the postman has opened
All your submissions and kept them
Tucked your words, as it were, under
His proverbial, federal wing.

And just so you know,
Your love poems work.
He reads them to his wife in bed
Before what has recently become

Most lyrical sex; he even adds
A few verbs here and there
For the sake of flow.


II. The Consolation

But you’ll be pleased to know
He generally leaves your
Enjambment alone
And understands the way irony

Goes; a fulcrum for your failure
And his formally elegiac evenings
Which he now has the diction
And courage to call epiphanic.

His only regret
Is that you aren’t
More prolific.

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004


Erik Campbell: “One afternoon in the summer of 1994 I was driving to work and I heard Garrison Keillor read Stephen Dunn’s poem ‘Tenderness’ on The Writer’s Almanac. After he finished the poem I pulled my car over and sat for some time. I had to. That is why I write poems. I want to make somebody else late for work.” (web)

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