The Gods of Poetry

They won’t be bought with fawning.
No need to call them “gods.”
You and they know that they and you
are natural frauds.

They won’t be lured by virtue.
In their den it’s understood:
A good poem’s not a poem that makes
the poet look good.

Intentions are their breakfast,
triumphs their midnight snack.
They eat the elegant jacket photo
acid-black.

If all the earth caught fire tonight,
they might be moved to save
three stalks of wheat, a ball of twine,
and a limestone cave.

Thousands of French and Prussian soldiers
died in war the year
the Owl and Pussy-Cat waltzed across
the mind of Lear.

The gods cannot recall one corpse
from Prussia or from France
as vividly as the moon, the moon
above that dance.

Austin Allen

Austin Allen

Austin Allen's debut poetry collection, Pleasures of the Game (Waywiser Press, 2016), was awarded the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. His poetry has appeared in The Yale Review, The Missouri Review, The Sewanee Review, 32 Poems, and other journals. He lives and teaches in Cincinnati.
Austin Allen

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Author: Austin Allen

Austin Allen's debut poetry collection, Pleasures of the Game (Waywiser Press, 2016), was awarded the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. His poetry has appeared in The Yale Review, The Missouri Review, The Sewanee Review, 32 Poems, and other journals. He lives and teaches in Cincinnati.