Posthumous Reflections of a Prehumous Poet

It is a difficult thing at seventeen

to read Poe and Stevenson and feel a certain connection

with them, knowing that recognition

was almost solely posthumous,


having spent all their lives pouring—

emptying—their very beings onto paper,

into masterpieces of life-containing language,

and then struggling with the hope

and ever-accompanying despair—

will this alter an existence?

One poet said the best measure

for good literature is whether we

live more intensely for the reading of it;

Poe and Stevenson spent

decades waking early,

wrestling with idea symbols

read left to right,

and then, eyes bloodshot,

crawling into an arctic bed, shivering.

Their whole lives long, they never knew

if the fervor they had squeezed from their own

would transfer to others’ or if it

would wash away

like windshield graffiti in a thunderstorm.


In suburban America I am told that I

still have six decades to look


to. I think that will perhaps be

a terrible trial, an artistic

eternity; to write even when no one

cares enough to love you like Greene

or to even to be as important as Orwell to

know you are hated.


The paper stretches blank

before me, beckoning my pen.

As if drafting a will, I worry that it will matter to none

until I die.

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