There are others along the way
I dreaded more, but this soon proved
hardest, you soon proved hardest.
So after weeks of loss and of only
more or less loss, I’d had enough,
woke up and got out. Seeking beginnings,
I headed straight for the end.
I caught, one afternoon, a bus
bound for San Francisco, the house
of your birth. But before I’d been gone
even an hour, I found them,
hooked to, of all things,
a scratched Plexiglas ticket window,
these blue bullets on a bright blue
release, fresh from the home office.

Surely, they were my way through to you,
your way around to me. Surely,
this was the net, open end
of the line. (Though you should know,
this is really all a part of the game.)

Back out of all this now...

Warning: A Potentially Violent
Individual is one

                                                too much for us.

Who is sullen and highly argumentative.

One year ago. A year here nearly
to the hushed, harsh day, and what?

Unreasonably critical and scornful of authority.

I can’t get through to them.
I cannot get them to understand.

Indicates a heightened resentment for those

Editors and other poets, family, friends

who are perceived as more fortunate.

Stellasue I mentioned before, then
at AGNI, kindly Sven, who said
he was hooked, though something kept
him hesitant. Roundabout Eric at CR,
for whom the third time wasn’t charmed,
who asked me to wait a year then try again.

            He’ll write them all out a verse
            instead of a curse
            as these questions without reply
            keep fluttering by.

Voices persistent complaints
of personal misfortunes.

Awakened somewhere
in god-forsaken Illinois, I undertook
a rough apology, an uneasy draft.

Shows unusual impulsiveness,

Recently, it has been argued...
The unknown contemporary shall...

Increasingly I began to feel...

becoming confused, loud,

that late works of this kind were wholly inevitable...

and easily frustrated,

I found myself...

pacing up and down the center aisle.

pacing up and down the yellow aisle.

      (O, to be greater
      than the rough sum
      of your detractors, to be, yourself,
      too lofty and original to rage.)

I tore the thing to shreds.

Communicates a verbal or a written threat.

Other poets! If only
there were a ready spell-book
to ward off all the worst:

            Several canceled checks marked “entry fee.”
            A book of stamps, a heal-all, some gin.
            A dog-eared copy of Faust, yellowed
            with a heady highlighter, and then

            choose a chapbook from a bottom shelf.
            Salt liberally, and through and through,
            with hot, bitter, histrionic tears.
            Shake well, then let it steep. Ah, let it stew.

Note: As these are only some
of the major characteristics, please
be alert to the show
of any unusual behavior.

This marks the end of the line.
This makes sixteen.

_ The poem is an anagram of Robert Frost’s “Directive.”
The italicized lines, also part of the anagram, are taken
from a notice posted outside the Greyhound bus depot
in South Bend, Indiana.

Mike Smith | Mudlark No. 30
Contents | Predilections and Predicaments