Poetic License

My Poetry License
Arrived in the mail
Along with bills
And flier trash.
I had received
the official letter
months ago
that demanded
that I register
as a poet.
They had seen
my poems
on my blog.
They knew
where I lived.
Well this is the
age of the internet
where we have
no privacy.
We all know that, right?
We’re not children,
protected by our parent’s
thoughts of innocence.
But still, since when
does a poet
have to register?
It’s not like
we as poets
are selling anything.
Who but the most
artsy individuals
even reads poetry?
Why would they
even care
what we wrote,
especially if it’s
poetry?
But they do care.
And like Corporations
or Jews in Nazi Germany,
they want to register us,
license us, and make us
card carrying poets.
Worse than that,
they tell us that they
have written laws about us.
It’s to protect us
and the public at large.
If you want to
write poetry here,
you have to have
a license.
A license to write poetry.
Well I could not
stop writing poetry.
It’s gotten into my blood,
into my nerves and brain.
My dreams are of poetry
and my poetry is my dream.
I breathe, eat, and drink poetry.
It’s not a compulsion or addiction.
No. It’s beyond that.
Without poetry I will die.
Die the same as I would
without food or water or air.
Impossible you say.
Impossible I agree, yet true.
As sure as the sky is blue,
the sea is green.
As sure as my heart
is beating and my eyes
are seeing.
Without poetry
I am dead.
Without poetry
I am a walking dead
zombie.
So what could I do?
It was painless, even free.
The letter even had
a prepaid return envelope.
They even had my picture,
my name and address,
my blog IRL,
my email address,
my twitter account name,
my facebook account name,
and most damning of all,
copies of every poem
I had ever written.
Poems I had thought
long gone,
from childhood and college.
They had them all
and they wanted me
to know they had them.
They even said
that by registering
I would be protecting myself
and be given a small stipend
as well for each poem I wrote.
Being such a small time poet
I did not qualify for much.
Still there is a catch to the whole thing.
If I chose to register as a poet,
then all I could write would be poetry.
No more prose for me.
Nada, zero, zip in the way of prose.
This only applied
to written communication,
but still prose writing
is a lot to give up.
And how do I explain this
to people that I write to.
There was an exemption
for poets in schools,
but only until special
poet’s schools could be set up. 
Then the thought
occurred to me,
where is the cutoff
between prose and poetry?
There was no answer
in the provided literature.
They assumed that as a poet
I would know the difference.
I’m not sure that I really know,
but figure they probably
are as in the dark as I,
and if I write so that it
looks like poetry,
they probably would not
know the difference.
So in the end
I signed the papers
and sent them in.
And I now have
my poet’s license.
So you had better believe
that anything I write
is poetry,
whether it seems
like poetry or not.

Yamabuki
April 2010

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