Unknown Consequences

An amateur poet self-publishes a book
of his poetry. Holding it in his hands
causes his heart to soar, his ego to inflate.
He gifts copies to family and friends to look
at his accomplishment. Tho’ he well understands
poetry books never sell, he hopes for a better fate.

At every opportunity he quite eagerly promotes
his book, advertising by whatever means he can.
Many promise to buy a copy…but they never do.
In hopes of striking gold, he foolishly devotes
time, money to send copies to celebrities, who can
make the book a best-seller by a mention or two.

Weeks turn into months; months turn into a year.
Discouragement begins as sales fail to materialize.
The poet becomes disheartened so that he never
again publishes his poems. Having become unclear
as to the worth of his work, now failing to realize
its effect, he eventually stops writing poetry forever.

Unbeknownst to our poet, a book sent to Oprah’s show
is discarded unread…but a cleaning maid retrieves
it from the trash and takes it home to her young son.
He reads it again and again. Thus the lad comes to know
a lifelong love of poetry. Later, he’ll say he conceives
his idea of becoming a poet from this reading he’d done.

The boy studies and writes, until he grows into a poet
of great renown. He teaches at a prestigious university,
instilling in students a love for poetry. Our book writer
never did know, because his book sales did not show it,
but his work had great importance, having a diversity
of effects. His heavy heart would have stayed lighter
had he kept focused upon writing for self, not for sales.

Harry Edward Gilleland      07.12.03