The hiss of a bottle opening, and the groan
of the couch giving way. I flip on the basketball
game, and my daughter bounces to the floor at my feet.
Watch my beer, kiddo, I tell her. She doesn’t really
get basketball yet, but she understands
when the best time to be around
her father is. Kathy comes out
of the bedroom with her hair
pinned up and her flannel shirt rolled
past her elbows. She slaps my legs off
the coffee table, kisses our child on
the forehead, settles down in the rocking chair.
There’s half a poem on the computer
in the den, and a bag of weed
in a drawer in the kitchen, but other than that,
you’d have never guessed I’m a poet at all.
My doctors tell me I’m too normal
to ever be a poet. Can’t you act a bit
more insane, they ask, or at least attempt
a suicide from time to time? You don’t have
to go through with it, Tom, just give us something
to work with—domestic abuse could help, they think.
I enjoy my booze a great deal, I offer. That’s a start,
they say. But then I admit I prefer
beer and cheap cigarettes to wine
and expensive cigarettes. What about
sexually-transmitted diseases, they want
to know, do you have any potential there?
I prefer the love of one woman to the sex
of many, I explain. They shake their heads.
A white, middle-class, heterosexual male,
not oppressed, depressed, no incest
a modest and loving family—two parents,
three siblings, churchgoers, they accuse.
I played little league, even. I frown.
I want a faithful wife, loyal children,
a playful dog, fucking white picket fence.
You’re just not a poet, they say,
we’re very sorry, but there’s simply
nothing we can do for you.
– Tom Feulner
Download “Ars Poetica” as a PDF