Poet's Corner

© 2008 Rebecca Foust


You care for them
soap their backs
pick nits from
each strand of hair;
nourish and starve
them for their own
good; discipline
them into line;

They grow, get
rowdy, take on
lives of their own,
so you send
them off make
their way
in the world, earn
some dough.

Then you wait,
and wait and wait
for the news;
Will there be a
train crash?
A cure for cancer
or maybe
the Swine Flu?

Until some
Grad student editor
not much older
than them
(but much, much
than you)

deigns to respond,
No thank you,
in a letter
sealed in
an envelope
stamped and
in your
own hand.


The relationship between poetry and pastry
is sadly quite inverse.

Do one well, the other suffers. An hour
for the villanelle subverts

the flaky crust, but still I keep my hands
in both; I give thanks

for publication that’s been broad and deep
in family praise, and that

for extracting smiles from kids half dead
with ennui

I’ve earned my Pulitzer in pies.


It randomly generates end-rhyme
and regular meter, plans for each stress,
gives infinite choices for first and third lines.

A real workhorse muse, it draws tandem lines,
searching each website and database;
it eats text and excretes it as end-rhyme,

slant, near or true.  In a few seconds’ time
tercets are teeming.  It breeds words like a virus,
spawns infinite choices for first and third lines.

Poetic pirouettes whirl en pointe on a dime
with no mental strain; nuanced phrase after phrase.
While it effortlessly generates end-rhyme.

Quality will rise, as in a short time
programs imprint preferences, continually revise
available choices for first and third lines

and sieve out the drek.  Hack poets will wane,
will wander disconsolate the Boolean maze
of the randomly generated end-rhymes.

Here fire derived from an algorithm burns
and warms the icicle heart even of Isosceles
who reads the roulette-wheel spun end-rhymes,
and triages choices for first and third lines.

Rebecca Foust won the 2007 and 2008 Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prizes and was a finalist for Poetry’s 2007 Emily Dickinson Award.  Nominated for two 2008 Pushcart Prizes, Foust’s recent poetry appers or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, Nimrod, North American Review, Spoon River, Women’s Review of Books and elsewhere.