Anybody Can Write a Poem

Bradley Paul
I am arguing with an idiot online.
He says anybody can write a poem.
I say some people are afraid to speak.
I say some people are ashamed to speak.
If they said the pronoun "I" 
they would find themselves floating
in the black Atlantic
and a woman would swim by, completely 
dry, in a rose chiffon shirt, 
until the ashamed person says her name
and the woman becomes wet and drowns
and her face turns to flayed ragged pulp,
white in the black water.
He says that he'd still write
even if someone cut off both his hands.
As if it were the hands that make a poem,
I say. I say what if someone cut out
whatever brain or gut or loin or heart
that lets you say hey, over here, listen, 
I have something to tell you all,
I'm different.
As an example I mention my mother
who loved that I write poems
and am such a wonderful genius.
And then I delete the comment
because my mother wanted no part of this or any
argument, because "Who am I 
to say whatever?"
Once on a grade school form
I entered her job as hairwasher.
She saw the form and was embarrassed and mad.
"You should have put receptionist."
But she didn't change it.
The last word she ever said was No.
And now here she is in my poem,
so proud of her idiot son, 
who presumes to speak for a woman
who wants to tell him to shut up, but can't.

From The Animals Are All Gathering by Bradley Paul. Copyright © 2010 by Bradley Paul. Used by permission of The Association of Writers and Writing Programs.

From The Animals Are All Gathering by Bradley Paul. Copyright © 2010 by Bradley Paul. Used by permission of The Association of Writers and Writing Programs.

Bradley Paul

by this poet

poem
Grendel appears as a wolf in the kitchen
Grendel appears as a shark
beneath the dining room floor
Grendel appears as a monster named Grendel

Might I have some money? asks a man
and you turn: is this the monster?
Here, says a nun, let's watch TV together
I knew and liked your mother

Grendel Grendel Grendel
you