The One-Minute Poem

February 1993

I was going to write a one-minute poem
To tell you about my act.

No, the real reason I was going to write a poem was
To impress you
With my wit, my insight, my intelligence and
My all too transparent veil of pretentious modesty and humility.

The first line was to be
“I’ve built an island for myself,”
Followed by rhymed verse explaining how I’ve distanced myself
From you (and everyone) by my acts.

But I didn’t complete it, because I was interrupted too
Many times by disconcerting thoughts and doubts
About what I was doing and what I wanted to say,
Until I finally acknowledged that I didn’t want to finish it
Because I couldn’t make it good enough
And realized that perhaps,
Perhaps that is my most engaging and engrossing act —
Ensuring that you see nothing of me if it’s not good.

I want to see you as your first draft,
Complete with misspelled words and freely-formed constructions.
But I want you to see me as
Completely edited, fully redlined, ready for print
And ready for rave review.

I am envious of your widespread circulation,
Yet my hands are still clenched tightly on my red pen
While you are already out
On the newsstands and front porches of life.