Nope Not Today

I didn’t want to break     my own heart     

oh no you didn’t      exist as a point on a plane     

in a modern philosophy of time     my new thing  

nope not today     in a world where transcendent 

incompetence is easy to spot     if that’s what you want to see     

and efficiency is still the enemy     of poetry and of love

oh no you didn’t write     poems on forgetting     fearsome leave-taking     

or crypto-amnesia     that act of forgetting     to cite fierce attachment     

nope     today is a day to be free     to transcend pedestrian realities  

O ethical imperative     dire as plagiarism nope     

O emotional appropriation     not today     

one form of redress     is if you write me a letter   

I will write you back      give and take means 

no hearts broken     if we concede to exist     

as a sudden broken thing     not fearful enemies of love      

we grow fierce as yes     transcendence yes     

on a plane in the sky     or in my mind     

no you didn’t forget     nor did I     nope not today


Copyright © 2019 by Tina Cane. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 15, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote this poem during my trip home from AWP 2019, during two layovers. It came from notes I took at a panel called The Influence Lab on literary appropriation, borrowing, and theft. It also has to do with the nature of emotional and intellectual attachment. I stole the poem's title and refrain from this t-shirt I love and bought for $4.99 at Rainbow Shop which says in sequins: Nope Not Today. This poem is part of a manuscript called Dog Whistle, in which I wish to explore the nature of language and its use, code-switching, register, emotional and intellectual appropriation, modes of communication, and politics.”
Tina Cane