Feature > Poetry
Kelly Cherry

Kelly Cherry

Kelly Cherry is author of twenty books of fiction (novel, stories), poetry, and nonfiction (essay, memoir, criticism). Her ninth poetry collection, The Life and Death of Poetry, is forthcoming in 2013. She is the current poet laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Ars Poetica

No dog, the muse cannot be leashed or trained.
The poem depends upon a willing muse.
Nothing is guaranteed or foreordained.

The poem is providential—a blessing gained
In bars and bordellos as often as in pews.
The poet knows the poem is not ordained.

Words upon a page are barely restrained
By form, twist like dust devils to get loose.
Nothing is guaranteed or foreordained.

Like the four winds, words will not be chained
Down in stanzas merely to amuse.
The poet knows the poem is not ordained.

Even your life is not your own, feigned
As it is to please the gods—a futile ruse.
Nothing is guaranteed or foreordained.

From time to time, the mercurial muse has deigned
To breathe a poem for a poet's temporary use.
No faithful dog, the muse—nor leashed nor trained.
Nothing's guaranteed. Nothing's foreordained.

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