Published by BOA Editions, Ltd., © 2001 by Charles Harper Webb


I wrote a priceless poem, a poem so precious

Burglars broke into my house three times

A day looking for it, and bankers begged

Me to deposit it with them, and women

Clamored for it instead of a ring,

And mafiosi clung like ants to the armored

Car I hired, and my bodyguards

Mugged and strip-searched, but didn't torture me

For fear I'd change one syllable.


I wrote an incriminating poem, a poem

So damning of so many that death threats

Arrived each hour; that police and FBI

Searched my house and car and safe-

Deposit box, with warrants and without,

Whether or not I was there, and attorneys

Begged to defend me just for the publicity,

And everyone I've ever known offered me

Big bucks to cut where they appeared.


I wrote an atomic poem, a poem

So devastating that the government

Begged to store it in a silo for me;

That one reading cured cancer, though

Memorizing it caused leukemia;

That it saw through women's clothes; that traders

In contraband offered missiles armed

With warheads in exchange; that no one

Who remembered even one line could stop shaking. 


I wrote a Top Secret poem, a poem

So classified that not even the CIA

Knew of it (they'd heard rumors)—

A poem the President lacked clearance to see.

Every woman I slept with was a spy.

I couldn't eat a bowl of Raisin Bran without

Chipping molars on some flake-size bug.

The world's future lay in my hands,

And people listened when I said, Don't startle me. 


I wrote a narcotic poem, a poem

So addictive that a single word,

Cut with a hundred neutral letters, sold

For thousands on the street; that junkies died

Of overdoses every day—died smiling,

Died fulfilled; that cocaine, heroin, speed,

Reefer, LSD lost all value;

That no one who heard so much as a prose

Summary could ever get enough.


I wrote a prophetic poem, a poem

So accurate that reporters used it

As a source; that racetracks, lotto,

And all Nevada shut down; that elections

Were abolished—people just asked me

Who won.  Religions sprang up around me.

People booked marriages, divorces,

Funerals years in advance; and no one

Lost a dime if they listened to me.


I wrote an extraterrestrial poem, a poem

So advanced and powerful that lovers paused

Mid-stroke to hear; that lifelong enemies

Dropped their weapons and embraced; that no one

Passed within a mile of the text without

Choking up; that people stopped burning

Coal and gas and oil and wood, and gathered

Near the poem, and rubbed their numb hands,

And opened first their jackets, then their hearts. 

For your very own copy of TULIP FARMS AND LEPER COLONIES Published by BOA Editions, Ltd., © 2001 by Charles Harper Webb click here.

Speechless Spring 2007
Copyright © 2007 Published by
Tebot Bach