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American Poetry

in Culture by

should never be dipped
to any person or vessel,
nor touch anything

beneath it, ground or hood
or commercial merchandise.
Always let poetry fall

free. Never use as drapery
festooned, tied up or back,
or as a covering

for anything. Place nothing
on poetry. Don’t use it
for receiving, holding,

carrying or delivering.
Poetry should not be impressed
on napkins or boxes,

embroidered on cushions
or handkerchiefs,
anything designed

for temporary use. When it’s
no longer a fitting emblem,
destroy it in a dignified way,

preferably by burning.

Philip Metres is the author of Pictures at an Exhibition (2016), Sand Opera (2015), and others. His work has garnered a Lannan fellowship, two NEAs, six Ohio Arts Council Grants and the Hunt Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Arts & Letters. He is professor of English at John Carroll University in Cleveland.

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