i wrote a poem that
nobody was supposed to read
when it was finished,
i changed my mind but
everyone had left the room

i resolved to write a poem
that everyone could understand
when it was finished
i hadn't said much of anything
and the people who read it knew
how it ended before they began

i gave up on poetry and
turned my attention to writing
the great american novel
it had all the makings of a masterpiece but
when it was finished there
were no great americans around to
read it; that evening

i tried to drown myself in the bathtub.
things didn't turn out as i'd planned, and
before i knew it
there were postcards and flowers
everywhere from people i had not
seen or spoken to since childhood. afterwards

someone told me that artists
take their own lives before people
begin to understand what they were trying
to say. i wanted to smile but
the sun was unbearably bright and i
chattered my teeth instead;
on the sidewalk, an artist who had

no teeth to chatter painted
the autumn air with
a cup full of change.