A Poem Written in 1996, Discovered in 2017


Do You Need a Pen?

You do not have the power to change the world.

Your frog will never
hiccup; not while perched on a rusted Old
Style can at the edge of a half-drained swamp-wood.
That is not the frog’s will, its duty, to hiccup to her children and
make a cry of “Wriggle free!” as they disseminate from a clump
of plasmic goo into the weeds of swamp night.

Absurdity. Apply for the position at the switchboard, the chemists,
the stock exchange.
Be sensible.
Like your brothers and sisters before you, you will swallow
the required prescriptions because
you do not have the power to change the world.

There is no demand for the vacuum sound from between the lovers’

There is no precedent for a “schlorp” muffled
under imaginary sheets.
Adam Smith would have mentioned it, don’t you think?
Now, please, take a seat and the forms will be ready momentarily.
They will provide all viable options.

A BMX bike with playing cards clothespinned to the spokes;
The taste of Kahlua and disappointment;
Magazine print on your eyes;
A bus ride on cobblestone rain.

You do not have the power.

I could humor you, son—let on that these things were actual
commodities, the attainment of which is one of the three sources of
power. But, please. Everything of value is limited:
natural resources
There’s no shareholding a sentence. That’s like…well…
trust your elders, boy. Be sensible.
There’s cart drivers, clerks, steel welders, cobblers, ploughmen,
glassblowers, someday even systems analyst.

So have a seat. Yes, that’s it.

Occupations build ethic and put food in the mouths of the little ones.
You do have little ones, don’t you? Well, that too is outlined in the

And here they are how. Do you need a pen?