Workshopped to Death



By the condition of the corpse,
there's no doubt whatsoever.
It's another poem snatched from exuberance
and workshopped to death—
syntax perforated by firing squads
of constructive criticism,
red pencil bleeding out of every line,
images so mangled with ambiguity
even literati scratch their pompous heads.

Before the police arrive and cordon off the area,
I press my hand against the executed lines
and feel the fleeting heat of life just taken.
I scrape the poem into a plastic bag
and shove the bag into a cooler full of ice.
I rush the victim home.

Thousands of frail and sickly verses
sit anxiously by the phone, waiting for the call
that says a transplant has been found.
Perhaps I can salvage a liver,
a kidney, an eye, a length of gut,
a fragment of a heart once rich and sure.

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Fred Longworth

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