The Perfect Victim

Summer, 2013 / No. 30

You tell the poem: Do what I fucking say

Or I’m really going to have to hurt you,

Like how Cito’s Blue Jays spanked the Yankees

7–6 at the SkyDome this afternoon.

It won’t listen. It breaks down and cries,

Dries up, does its best Catholic shy girl bit,

And you’re left holding your Bic, unsurprised

the muse has declined your romantic bait.

It won’t love you. It won’t say, “I love you.”

So draw the blinds, unplug the telephone,

Howl away the Easter sun above you,

And see if it really likes being alone.

Every poem wants to be excused.

You follow it into the bathroom

Where your advances are always refused.

Kill your babies, discard what’s bothersome—

The old masters knew it: just crack the thing

With a few hard stanzas and it’ll break

Like a compliant egg, spilling its everything.

What the poem refuses the poet takes.

Michael Lista is the author of the poetry collection Bloom. He lives in Toronto and is the poetry editor of The Walrus and the poetry columnist for the National Post. Last updated summer, 2013.