Okay, so yes, I'm drunk, and I never drink. And I have this idea for us--no, all of us-- that I'd better set down right now and then submit- right now --before I lose my nerve. So, here's the deal: we've gone over the cliff of climate temperature. We're screwed. Poets--better than scientists--understand that every step has a consequence. I mean, we basically write in the dark, correct? (And sometimes, you finish a poem and look at it as if you've just left a movie matinee on a bright afternoon, and say, privately to yourself, "maybe I'm not a fraud, after all.") So what I'm saying is that we could be extinct by about 2030. I don't mean collapsed, or suffering from food shortages or dire water scarcity, disappeared coastlines, masses of environmental refugees. I mean gone.
So, the poetry will be gone. Every journal that wrote you, "We love this!"--gone. Every feverish chapbook, the galley copy in your hands, more exciting than your first glimpse of Paris, or first guarded, kiss- absolutely gone. Not a scrap. And that's what I can't handle. That's worse than death.
So this is what I want to do. And DON'T tell me it's futile, because I need this. Everything-for now- is running on time. White people think we're a democracy. Big projects- GO! NASA missions, commercial satellites, go! So, I want to gather all our poems and put them into space. I'm serious. Listen. I mean it. Wait, I know, you'll hear this: do you know what the last, orbiting sentence will be? It will be this: that feminist poets overtook the hill of contemporary poetry. That they raced miles ahead of a world of violent misogyny, in a measure so graceful that each earned a laurel for her hair. We can leave that behind us.
I have a couple of requests: I'd like to include Richard Wilbur and Donald Hall, the last old lions. I want them to know they're going up. And I want to include the Australians. They're sincere, they write well, and their continent is going to be the first to be changed to a cinder.
We need to be careful about the academics. You know what I mean. And no, no damn room for Billy Collins, Mary Oliver. And a few others excluded: Robert Frost, the Ty Cobb of poetry. You might have to look that up. Do you know what Yeats said about Wilfred Owen, huh? He said Owen's work belonged on the corner page of a country newspaper.. My point here is that amid all the cliques and jockeying and snide remarks ( T.S. Eliot: "Yeats? The Gaelic writer?") is the very malevolence that got us here in the first place.
And then finally, this: we'll have the last laugh. We'll be saved, preserved for some other species, or reawakening; unlike humanity now, who would no more read yours or my poetry than run naked from the house. Amirite? We'll be floating, waiting---patiently as always-- to be read.
Charles Bane Jr.
Charles Bane, Jr. is the American author of The Chapbook ( Curbside Splendor, 2011) and Love Poems ( Kelsay Books, 2014). His work was described by the Huffington Post as "not only standing on the shoulders of giants, but shrinking them." Creator of The Meaning Of Poetry series for The Gutenberg Project, he is a current nominee as Poet Laureate of Florida.