At A Convocation of Muses (Muse #8)

You arrive in the chortling hall. You are
an apprentice muse. You pay your sub,
sign on for a seminar, look for your menu,
your man, and your L-plate. You choose
An Acolyte’s Guide To Titles: Giving
Your Victim The Illusion That He Will Be
Winning Prizes Within A Week Or So.

In a side-room, there is a befuddled
chunter going on, over dry biscuit, an uppity cuppa,
and the raw greetings of former recruits.
Somebody squeezes a green teabag
into some white-ribbed plastic. You sip.

The seminar room is crammed with mangles.
Bemused, you watch assistants cranking
handles, and yanking levers, see the spin
of yarn, the flat blather of writer’s block
being turned into sheets of sparkle.

You learn to pan. To skim. To double
the bluff, and beggar the consequence.
And to smile, widely, sitting in kitchens,
letting the distant
word-wizard think he has completed
a masterpiece, fast – while you, blithe,
with a badge on, lean back
and whistle bits of dixie to the cat.

Go on! you think. The inkwell’s not been
invented that you couldn’t dry with trying!
You’ve paid your dues. You’re a muse.

April 2005

From the book New Poems