Poem Written After Reading a “Poem Written in the Manner of Billy Collins”

“…until finally there is only a clean white page”
~ Tony Hoagland, “Poem Written in the Manner of Billy Collins”

Except that the problem with these kinds
of erasures and corrections is that one
never winds up with that clean white page
or that tousle-haired child (let me guess,

blue-eyed) feeding one perfect, pesticide-
free leaf to his well-groomed guinea pig—
which by the way is known more widely
in the Andean highlands as cuy or cuye,

where an estimated 65 million of these
“little sea pigs” are consumed every year
(fried, broiled, grilled, or roasted).
Why a Peruvian child might smack

his lips with gusto at this rodent dish
and why here, only an Andrew Zimmern or
Anthony Bourdain would dare chow down
on a crisp foreleg or thigh, illustrates

not only that one man’s meat is another
one’s cultural taboo, but the whole problem
of late 21st century multinational capitalism.
Because practically everything has become

universally commodified, it becomes easier
to substitute the animal, the child, the gun,
the land mine, the beheading, the execution—
And language, yes even the language of poets

and pundits, can be diluted like those coffee beans
steeping in the paper cone filter, or the nibs
of cocoa gathered by farmers on the Ivory Coast
who have never had a square of chocolate

nor shuddered from the pleasure of its melting
on their tongues. Switch from Chopin to the music
of gamelans, write about both those dying from Ebola
in west Africa, and the panic that closed down schools

in Texas and Ohio. Write about journalists killed
and dumped into mass graves. Write about transgendered
Jenny, whose birth name was Jeffrey, and the US Marine
suspected of her murder in Olongapo City.

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