The poem behind the poem

says I am not a copy: most of the time
you don’t even know I’m here.
The poem

behind the poem is not your evil twin,
and not your doppelgänger either. You came
into the room thinking Oh what nice

contemporary furniture, what pleasant ambience,
and you were ready to surrender your keys, your purse,
your not-yet-born firstborn to the handsome valet

attendant. But the poem behind the poem doesn’t care
what kind of suit or trench coat you’re wearing,
what kind of cummerbund. The poem behind the poem

is a thin tasseled cord to one side
of the printed drape or the dumbwaiter.
The poem behind the poem is the trapdoor

you don’t notice until the floor falls away
beneath your shiny, pointy, oxfords; and you
are falling into a story that doesn’t seem

to make sense, and so you wave your arms
and yell I’ll sue! except the ancient clerk
yawning at the counter has seen it all before.


In response to Via Negativa: An inquiry concerning the poetics of like, whatever.

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