by Bill Purdin on January 20, 2011

Difference from a live one to a dead one
Is easy to see in poetry
Because it just happened.
Because it just happened.
Right in front of you.

I saw poems die all the time once.

They were rhyming along
Swaggering with dusty rhythm
And then they stopped moving.
And then they stopped moving.
And then they stopped, moving.

A few, even as they were still and unrestless,
Torn from a book and tossed to the ground,
Dead for sure, still moved, still moved.

I remember every one, those poems.
They were structured like Housman,
Or free like Sandberg. Or long like Vachel Lindsay.
They were cryptic like Dickinson, or too brief
Like Yeats. They still move. They still move.
They, still, move.

But then, there were those other poems, too
The ones the winds blew away.
Many more of them.
They were well written but unremembered.
I watched them drifting away, carried off.
What’s the difference: the living and the dead?
When a poem dies, it dies right in front of you.
When a poem lives, it lives because of you.

They were all written in different hands
They were all there for us to see,
They all had their wonder plans
Some are, some will never be.

Seems a shame all those dead poems.
Seems a shame all those dead poems.
But for the living, would’ve all been a waste.
It’s something that must be faced.

Written: 05/06/2008
This poem is not about poetry.

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