A Poet Considers Retooling for the New Economy

by Randy Koch

WHEN the Dow Jones collapsed and the Nasdaq caved in
and real estate values fell fifty percent,
when Bernie made off with investors' billions
and the market for jobs grew thinner than thin,

when financial firms failed but the Feds hurried in
to reassure folks this was not '29
and auto execs--to the public's chagrin--
with their jets and beseeching raised an unholy din,

I appraised the degree to which my market value
might have improved with a fresh MFA.
I considered what newly degreed writers do
and hoped interest in hiring poets accrued.

I reworked my CV and searched for a job
by scouring the web and Monster-dot-com.
But typing in ''poet'' (like a presumptuous snob)
found only employment with corn and its cobs,

for the company POET in rural Sioux Falls,
with an eighty-mil grant from our own DOE,
produces and transports green ethanol
(more refined than most poets and less flammable).

So options for certified poets are few,
but not because they have limited skills.
The problem, I think, is the negative view
of poems, not poets, and their fiscal miscues.

So I considered the debits troubling much verse:
fundamentals of sound, predictable rhyme,
meter tight as a line of bad credit, a curse,
a blight on liquidity. But what's even worse

is the debt obligation this stanza now backs
for the quatrain preceding, insolvent and hedged
with a partial idea and the obvious lack
of a deal-closing period, like Goldman-Sachs

bundling home assets, toxic as junk,
and needing a further infusion of sense
as its leveraged value has steadily shrunk.
And line after line, verse has too often sunk:

devalued, defaulted, and deregulated,
each stanza a model of crashing finances,
bearish, bubbled, and verbosely inflated
till capital Poems are depreciated.

And free verse, some say, is informally framed
as a bailout, a rescue, a stimulus plan
that allows bankrupt poets to engage in a game
of de-versified lines that limp as if they're lame.

So what is an unemployed poet to do
when his verses are seen as only for closure?
When they bear stern warnings but never a clue
about whether or not we should save the Big 2?

When a sonnet is rated Standard & Poor?
When a ballad is seen as default, not da bomb?
Does my rhyming CV have sufficient allure
or simply reveal that I'm too immature?

Could a poet get work if writing seems smart,
would stimulate jobs, could be shovel ready?
Though no one sees poems as state of the art,
should job-hunting poets be covered by TARP?

Maybe a letter in iambs will send
a subliminal message that I really am
as steady as clockwork, employers' best friend,
the measure that we all employ in the end.

But if no one will hire a poet these days
and the FDIC simply won't insure verse,
if I can't get a takeover like Fannie Mae's,
or figure a rescue when funds are disbursed,

if no one will swap a derivative poem
constructed from excerpts of Wall Street reports
for a credit default, a foreclosed-upon home,
a non-collateralized IndyMac loan,

if a corporate bonus would surely be waived
and lack of a fiat means times will get worse,
and as a result every door will stay closed,
then, maybe, I should write nothing but prose.

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