the flaw in your poetry, young man

the flaw in your poetry, young man
is that all your poetry is about you
whereas i, the famous poet you have heard about,
write about the world at large

the young poet listened well
the famous poet he had heard about
was very, very wise and could almost
but not always, hold his liquor

you would do well to write like me
young fellow, and so the young one
stretched and wrote about the birds
and candelabra, industry, and tyranny

and the famous poet groaned and said
no, you young fool, all those things are
metaphors for people, we are poets
and our job: humanity—be like me

the young one saw the famous poet’s
work was really about people in the world
his turds were people, and his parfaits, too
poems to microbes were poems to young poets

macrocosm and microcosm either way
all the famous poet’s work was really
about the young poet, and because the young
poet aspired to be just like his teacher

he returned home and wrote poems about himself
and his teacher said, there, finally you get it

—Don Whittington

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