Poetry

Patronage

Solmaz Sharif

They say
willingness is what one needs
to succeed.

They say one needs to succeed.

    *

Our poets do not imagine
a screaming

audience.

Our poets are used to padding,

vinyl, on the foldable chairs,
bookshelves on casters
moved aside
to make space for them

A world polite
for their words

A well-­behaved.
A world’s behavior

malformed and they step
in as one steps in
to a nursery and

quiet

calms the tantrum
attempts not to wake
the sleeping, the milk-­drunk

and burped babe.

Our poets coo.

And beg their feet be placed in a large room.

            *

Prize ring. Bull ring. Lion
through the ring of flames.

Poets convinced they are ringmaster
when it is with big brooms and bins, in fact,
they enter to clear the elephant scat.

            *

There was an inlet
I pulled over once to watch the sunset, which
was still another hour or so away, the light
just low enough there to begin to change.
I should’ve stayed. I should’ve stayed.

            *

A life of idle, with money

doing the work. A life beholden,
but bestowed. To make reformists of us all,

even the fascists.
Especially

of the fascists.

            *

But he’s a patron.
But he makes a star of us,
he makes us of rank.

But he’s a churchgoer

and they place their hands on him and pray and bountiful
grow their wives’ bellies, a bully
for each family. Exponential doom.

Singing to each other in the private gazebo of their youth.

            *

Now sing.

            *

I said what I meant
but I said it

in velvet. I said it in feathers.
And so one poet reminded me

Remember what you are to them.

Poodle, I said.

And remember what they are to you.

            *

Meat.

Solmaz Sharif is a poet. Her second collection is Customs.
Originally published:
May 19, 2021

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