Cassie Lewis – (lewis)

Cassie Lewis

Lessons for Young Poets
After John Forbes


Those poems kept me alive. But had I known

                        what killed him — I might have lost that battle


Fires now — Fire! Fire!

on every Babylon.


Today I woke up — Hello I’m back!  Why not?

A poet’s silence won’t progress it

                        just continues.

                        Forbes’ death

                        blamed only alcohol, cough syrup, pills, but

I have seen the greatest minds of my generation stuck in call centers.

Talent is a health hazard.


The ’90s were especially mean, don’t you think?

                        Grim optimism was the new realism.  Pour white paint

onto canvas.  Pour white space onto paper.  Habitual cynicism

is just fashion.


During combat

formal feelings come like tanks.

                        Power immunizes, so yes,

                        irreverence is radical, but don’t blame

              sonnets.  Honor the past.

              Abandon your most cherished lies.

              This is not a contradiction.


              During art

failure like a stand up comic

passes out back stage —

war is hell it’s embarrassing.


There are a million ways to say a thing

but only one has your



Those poems kept me alive.

                                                Keep going,

do not be afraid of your own heart beating.

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