by William Greenway
Her Honor sits raven-robed
behind a banc of the stacked books
of Mallarmé, Sexton, Shakespeare,
Marvell, Dickinson, Plath, etc.
The accused are brought before her
handcuffed, lest they grab
a pen left carelessly loaded.
The charges and exhibit A,
their poems, are read aloud to the court,
and if the sniggers swell to boos and hisses,
she bangs the McGonagall Gavel
to remind us all that we, too, may
be standing in the dock someday,
our counsel pleading veracity, sincerity,
a dying dog, divorce, or MFA.
Let the tone-deaf cast the first stone.
The penalties, when they come,
are always the most severe:
take the handcuffs off,
and return them to their little lives,
their incomprehensible, uncomprehending,
husbands, kids, and wives,
let them scribble on about their childhoods,
grandmas, triple-bypass surgeries,
the fodder of their opus,
and let them chew the cud
until the edge of doom,
sending it to magazines
obscure as they are hopeless.
And last and worst (or best) of all,
every time they almost think
it’s time to pack it in and never
self-address another envelope,
they’ll be paid a visit by parole
officer Ms. Erato
and social worker Mr. Hope.