Dear Poet, and we use the term loosely here,
Thank you for submitting your work to us (we are being polite, of course: you should thank us for reading it. Or rather, you should apologize to us for making us read it). We regret (like hell we do!) to inform you that it does not meet our present needs, nor will it ever, not even if you were the last man on earth. Actually, that would not be such a bad thing, because were you the last man on earth, there would be no one there to read your poetry and that is already beginning to look like a good development.
Your work sucks, your cover letter sucks, even the envelope in which you sent us your work was poorly addressed and the stamp was on crooked. In short: you suck. We are not returning your work: we burned it, as we felt that purification by fire was the only way to cleanse our souls from having read the filth you call your writing. We are now entering a week-long retreat to return to some sort of equilibrium.
We beg of you never again to send us your poetry (if we want to keep using improperly the word). Actually, on second thought, feel free to send us more. We have closed the magazine down and all of us have decided to become accountants because we figured you spoiled the whole poetry thing for us. Any time we looked at another submission there would have been the nagging doubt that perhaps it was by you, maybe under an assumed name. Imagine that, a letter from New York state arrives, with the stylish logo of Lehman College on the envelope and a scrawled “Collins” in the top left corner. One of us says, “Hey, Lehman, isn’t that where Billy Collins teaches?” and then we are all excited and we open the letter with trembling fingers, thinking that maybe Billy Collins submitted a poem to our magazine, and then it’s your poetry again. No, no, that’s too horrible. Better to close the damn magazine down. I never liked Cathy, the fiction editor, anyway, so screw that, and accountants make decent money. So, yes, send us more of your (what the hell) “poetry”: it will come back to you saying “no longer at this address.”
We wish you the best of luck with your career, especially if that includes being shot out of a cannon and fed to wild dogs (not that we have anything against wild dogs that we should wish them harm, but you know what we mean).