In residential districts, the laurel is grown high
and trimmed to a dense hedge delineating
this-is-mine, while insisting
what-I-have: the laurel celebrates a separation
from one’s fellow citizens.

And these flimsiest of laurels you seek
are surely a dim shadow of celebrity:
the worship of vacuous shape-shifters, human beings
manipulated, Photoshopped by paid liars
into products that sell other products. In your case,
less a means to enrich the owners
of this deceit, and more a state-approved oddity
like a pet iguana on a leash, or a neutered or spayed wolverine
that will fetch and carry on command.
Yet what do these laurels sell?

Are your words to be
the stamp of authentication
on the forms everyone is asked to fill in
to justify the arrangements
whereby cash is continually siphoned to the wealthy?
Would you add toy-store magic dust
to these schemes, or sing for a few pitiful coins
of the necessity–or irrelevance–of the expanding desert
between the compensation package of senior executives
and the crowded buses daily hauling their cargo
to the prisons of hopeless diversions and dreams?


Let us abjure authority’s laurel
and with bill cap and hardhat firmly in place

proclaim: we build this world as slaves
scourged by want and need

by the overseers of money. Nevertheless
we build for all, and for a day

when everyone, everyone
are poets, after their own fashion,

so that when at last we can remove our headgear
in homage to our neighbors,

what nestles in our hair
will be their subtle, magnificent,

cranky and hilarious words, telling
of everything their shoes have encountered,

words as material as leaves of cedar or birch,
or laurel,

words that wreathe us in the distinction
of a rich equality: of friends,

companions, cousins
–an interlaced

and enduring

~ Tom Wayman

Bio: Dirty Snow is Tom Wayman’s eighteenth collection of poems. He has edited a number of anthologies, including The Dominion of Love (2001). His published fiction includes two books of short stories and the novel Woodstock Rising (2009).

To read more poems by Tom Wayman, click here.

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