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A Poet is Not a Priest

10.09.19 Posted in today's words by

Thomas Locicero’s most recent poem to appear here was “Wallace Stevens in Love” (September 2019).

A Poet is Not a Priest
By Thomas Locicero

A poet is not a priest in a cramped
confessional, for the sins of others
vie to twist his words, to slip themselves
into his biography. The poet
is not a novelist who has to lie
but instead relies on what memory
insists is truth or upon truth itself.
The poet is not qualified to give
penance, for what good are two Hail Marys

and an Our Father to an adulterer
whose infidelities he openly
blames on his wife for her lack of passion?
Uttered half-truths are unacceptable
to the poet and should be to a priest.
When the sinner confesses, he washes
his armpits and sucks long on a strong mint
to gain favor from the claustrophobic
priest, but the poet will hold back nothing.
Here, he says, put your finger in my wound.

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