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Tuesday, January 03, 2023


by Matthew King

It’s dead like God is, but the devil's in
the details of the mortal metaphor:
if death’s the wages, how did poets sin?
Does blood not soak their pages anymore?
Have poets found they’re lacking souls to pour
out? Some would say their skin has got too thin.
But here’s a piece of parabolic lore
to ponder, even if you’ve ears of tin:
God, having inspiration to dispose
of, shares it with some workshoppers of verse.
It makes him wish we all had stuck to prose.
He hitches back to heaven in a hearse,
and takes the sound advice his peers propose:
he sits down on a cloud to decompose.

Author's note: The New York Times published a piece arguing that poetry is dead. It provoked a lively response.

Matthew King used to teach philosophy at York University in Toronto; he now lives in what Al Purdy called "the country north of Belleville", where he tries to grow things, counts birds, takes pictures of flowers with bugs on them, and walks a rope bridge between the neighbouring mountaintops of philosophy and poetry.