Useful Jobs for Poets


A poem by Madhuri.

The job of naming the new (Barcelona) streets was given to the poet Victor Balaguer.
– It’s Not About the Tapas by Polly Evans

some people are just poets

Naming streets, with no veto committee allowed to interfere.
Describing wines and mushrooms and butter and olive oil.
Naming paint-colors and mountains.
Naming cats, race-horses, babies, or anyone who wants a new name.
Gossiping to the gods and goddesses to keep them up to date.
Giving lunchtime performances in banks.
Sniffing politicians’ armpits as they go by and thus knowing all there is to know about them; then fleeing to a cabin in the woods and writing about it later.
Perceiving the pterodactyl in the iron cage depended above the dance floor in the lava cave nightclub in Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote (the pterodactyl might otherwise feel lonely).
Being called everywhere and anywhere, to sit in a house for a while, amongst the occupants, so as to name that house succinctly.
Creating altogether new words.
Giving study groups on the poet Hafiz, for schools, churches, universities, and civic organizations.
Reading aloud to felons.
Reading aloud to felons the poets’ own work, for as long as the poet pleases, and not paying attention to what the felon thinks he wants.
Reading really good poetry tenderly to old ladies.
Reading the Russian novelists aloud to policemen.
Reading poetry to plants.
Befriending topless dancers, and drawing the poetry out of them just as it comes.
Listening to what little children say and writing it down.
Giving any one cat a hundred appellations.
Chiding marauding dogs with illustrative curses of fabulous invention.
Naming new dishes, bicycles and so forth.
Reading poems over new ships, and then
going on those ships, to Svalbard or to Borneo.
Writing letters from there, even though everyone else writes e-mails.
Making people cry.
Being available for hire for special occasions, of which there truly are many, if people
would only notice.
Decorating their own hair with trumpet-vines,
so that all the rest of us might try it too.

MadhuriPoem and illustration by

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