The Most Important Poem In The World
1.
This is the most important poem in the world.
This is the most important poem ever written,
because it is about you who are reading it,
not about me and my concerns.
Leap, leap into the unknown, it says to itself,
which is not what it says to you now.
It will later.
This poem is followed by the least important poem in the world,
which is about itself, not you or me.

TV commercials and other forms of massive expensive solicitude
also maintain that they are entirely about
those who take the trouble to attend to them:
directly aimed at you, personally.
They try to exact from you the belief
that in all your unspeakable shimmering finitude
short of your name (which how could they know?)
you are really being taken into the world’s account,
not just asked to accept
mere citizenship of inclusion
in a scattering of information
meant to appeal to your selfish nature.
                                                                                          Indeed,
even you, insofar as you were born skeptical,
come to wonder if the smell of your armpits
is as rank as the commercials manage to suggest
without actually saying “rank” or “armpits”
but giving you to believe it
almost as if they knew and had smelled them.

Well, this poem’s importance
is that it is more powerful
than any other kind of message
made for mortals —
but don’t just believe it
                                                      stay a skeptic
                                                                           until you’re convinced:
this poem’s only concern is that you read it.
It will tell you things you already know
deep down
but can hardly ever bring yourself to believe
because never
never
until you read them here
did you quite understand
that you already knew them.

This poem has written it all down
THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU
as you could never write it. The fact of the writing
and the fact of your own Being
meet here on moral ground
between certainty and prophecy,
the territory and atmosphere of truth
        where wings still tremble from the nervous completion
                      of the descent from on high
        and then of alarm past and exhilaration remembered
                      at the loftiness
        and the eager longing to beat up into a serene
                      glide again.

THE TRUTH

You are beautiful, intelligent, strong, loved, and loving.
You are beautiful, intelligent, strong, loved, and loving.
Yet you will risk your life for a pin
because your life,
that darling,
matters so much it spreads over all dangers
the careless glow of your beauty, intelligence, strength, loveliness,
        and love.

You never knew that about yourself
the last time you counted your blessings, did you?
Where would you have found the credit?
In yourself? Never!
Here it is in the poem of a stranger
whose only desire is to write a poem
the body of which is your own spirit
and doesn’t need your approval.

2.

Now suppose you are to smile smugly in the childish belief
that you really are beautiful, intelligent, strong, etc.,
a belief that sinks in the sands of your wisdom,
of your riper sense of judgement and doubt
that won’t have any truck with vanity —
that childish warmth as of wetting the bed
and stretching out in it —
and its gradual accumulation of neurotic symptoms
or the guilt that leads to heavy drinking?
You will then be astute enough to understand
(a mark of your superior intelligence)
that wherever conviction lies
it has not become entangled by self-deception.

So say it aloud, meaning every word:
“I am beautiful, intelligent, strong, loved, and
loving
even as this poem told me so!”
                                                                            Although
the odds are we never laid eyes on each other,
you and I,
my declaration about you is more conscionable
than any other remotely like it
that ever came at you out of the blue.
If, then, such a burden of Truth
is indeed borne by this poem,
why do I insist on calling it a “poem”?
                                                                                         For, surely,
it can’t amount to more than an incantation,
not being characterized
by the authentic monumental indifference a poem should own
in your presence as its reader.
                                                                           Ah,

but Blake, Shelley, Whitman, Ginsberg
can not have written in vain — take the magic
out of poetry and the poem becomes an Onan’s Delight
concentrating so much attention to itself
it hardly knows you’re in the same room.
You might as well be back in Tuttletown as read it.

AND THE TRUTH LIVES ON

Hold an eon’s teardrop in your hand,
the weightlessness of a precious stone,
and turn it slowly in the coruscating light:
O the vanities, the swift
appearances and disappearances of everything
that matters most and is too much to bear,
your amazing greatness that the fiberglass smiles
of the manic sentiment specialists
can’t falsify anymore
once you’ve read the true version here.
These verses constitute the essential poem,
every reader’s own poem,
because they have succeeded in putting the oblique straight,
by declaring
that you’re still the beautiful,
intelligent, strong, loved lover
who matters beyond belief and wisdom
where your wings are now folded
over the most important poem in the world.
The Least Important Poem In The World
This verse of mine proceeds from left to right
and snaps suddenly back to the left again
until the destined end of the line once more flings left
in backward-forward spatial argument
according to the typographic demand
of the rigid vertical margin on one side
and the determination by verse rhythm
of the wriggling vertical margin on the other,
my only subject the self-propelling
progress and recoil that must in no wise drift
from the track. It needs no further
esthetic or rhetorical parade of means
in justification. O
                                                      there are many poems
that pay scant acknowledgment to verbal devices, conceits,
and other attributes of style and form,
and just by winding out from pillar to post
make their conditions clear
even as this, the least important poem
in the world, does
                                                                          the lightning of your glance
prepares me for the thunder in your brow
dear friend
                                                                          yet see
how inappropriate, how lost
amid this limping gait which is all the matter here
such an apostrophic insertion is —
best you keep away, removed from my verse, which otherwise
would find its least importance in the world embarrassed
by your beauty, intelligence, strength and
                                                                          (go, now, go!)