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Monday, August 31, 2009


by Paul Hostovsky

Yes, but not in this country.
Which doesn’t mean we don’t have to worry
about telling the truth in our poems—
you can still get hurt
trying to tackle the big truths
on the football field of life
in this country. So tell the truth, but tell it
oblong like a football bouncing around
unpredictably, even comically—
sure, try a little humor, try
tackling the big truths by tickling them
on their ankles or necks or Achilles
tendons—maybe they’ll fall down laughing
at the ten or twenty yard line, slap
your back and have a cup of tea with you
at the table of the poem. But with humor
you risk being glib, or stupid, or worse—
there you are with your pen
or index finger sticking out, trying
to tickle a little skin in the middle
of the football field of life—a poet
could get hurt doing that. True,
in this country we don’t have to worry
about being shot to death for telling the truth
in our poems. But the reason for that—
which has less to do with gun control
and the right of free speech in this country
than the place of poetry in this country—hurts too.

Paul Hostovsky's poems appear widely online and in print.