Because they will ask you what poetry
is, over and over again. And over and
over again you will try to answer them,
with your eyes rolling over themselves
like those of a horse recently captured.
It is not the white people with their faces
like unbaked rolls or the brown with their
faces like bread rising out of clay ovens.
It is the student writing excited nothings
while no one notices that the tired master
repeats himself. As if the truth could be
repeated even twice. It is the lit joint you
are trying to will into your own hand.
It is the run you wipe with the back of
your sleeve, walking out of the cold,
into a room full of well-fed people. It
is the laughter you can not find rising
in you when their laughter rises above
the tinkling glasses. It is not a reference
to anything they have heard or read.
It is how you couldn’t give two licks
over one goddamned dead language
while there is still one person living
on the goddamned streets. But hush,
poetry is the girl sitting right in front
of us now, how one lock of her hair falls
away from the arrangement of the rest
(& lord how we do try to arrange things).
It is when you turn to me, after the poetry
reading and say, “let’s get out of here.”
Cecilia Llompart is an award winning poet born in Puerto Rico and raised in Florida. Her first collection, The Wingless, was published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in the spring of 2014. She is the recipient of two awards from the Academy of American Poets, and her work has been included or is forthcoming in anthologies by University of Akron Press, University of Georgia Press, Carnegie Mellon University Press, Jaded Ibis Press, and Minor Arcana Press. Most recently, she has served as guest editor for Matter: A Journal of Political Poetry and Commentary, judged an anthology for the Tupelo Press Teen Writing Center, stepped up as chair of creative writing for The Blue Ridge Summer Institute for Young Artists, interned with The Paris Poetry Workshop, and founded the nonprofit: New Wanderers, a nomadic poetry collective.