After the Johnson County Fair
And Rodeo ParadeI've been appointed poet laureate of my state.
Granted, it's the least populated state in the union
and one which many Americans can't place on a map.
Still, I could receive no greater honor.
But I offer few thanks and seem, I'm afraid,
not quite present. The fact is, I've been babysitting
a friend's dog while she's away in Denver
getting some culture. Someone has opened
the gate of my yard during the parade and the dog,
a longhaired dachshund named Abby
whose ears fly like wings when she runs,
has disappeared. I imagine the screaming
and the sounds of gunshots --- even though blanks ---
the roar of motorcycles and diesel generators,
and the whining of the go-carts driven by middle-aged men
in red fezzes, have combined to terrify the dog.She's gone and my friend is going to kill me,
poet laureate be damned. So I don't properly
thank the governor, and disappear into the crowds
asking people if they've seen the lost dog.
A few hours later, a policeman comes by to tell me
he saw a little dog lying in the middle of the parade route
on her back as if sunbathing before the horses
arrived to crush her. He picked her up and put her in his house
and now he's brought her to me to see if she's the one.
"Yes!" I shout in joy. But it's too late
to thank the governor, who is already gone.
Well, poetry --- they say that poetry is more often than not
against the ideals of normal social life.
And so the governor takes a risk?
not in naming me poet laureate, but in
naming anyone to such a post. The risk
isn't for what a person might do or say
but for poetry, what it is and might be.--- From Some Church
©2005, Milkweed Editions