Direct Address
by Alan Birkelbach



In a road movie
I especially liked the way
Bob Hope would turn right to the fourth wall
And speak to the audience.
Sometimes he would warn us
that Bing Crosby was about to sing.

As far as I know there is no version of the Bible
where suddenly there’s a section,
probably italicized,
where Jesus would speak to you directly.
“Bob, don’t take that job.”
“Denice, stick to the salad.”
Then he would return to the action,
trying to coach the thick disciples.

That’s why we think poetry has no pertinence.
There’s no Whitman talking about grass,
Farnsworth moaning about dragons,
Browning making us an accomplice in regards to a Duchess,
Or Dickinson whispering to us about death.

And certainly nothing is calling us by name.
Not even Robert Frost. Or Sandburg.
Who’s out there now, offering us a hand?

Sure, there’s Thomas, telling us not to go gentle.
But he’s dead.

What I want to know is,
Who is out there, right now,
offering me a contract I want to sign,

writing lines that linger and resonate,
something lyrical and sympathetic,
poems that are smart, with some clever dialogue,
with the added ingredient of something equivalent
to a smiling Dorothy Lamour.






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