In these days . . . so many ingenious traps for catching and hamstringing female poets have been invented that it is a rare editor who ever really sees one.
H.L. Mencken, Memoirs of an Editor
I set a snare before the door
of a shoppe that brewed its coffee bitter.
An Adrienne Rich-type took the bait,
and scurried through where the deadfall hit her.
She was stunned, to say the least,
her poetic gifts, for the time, suspended;
her close-cropped hair couldn’t go awry
but her derriere was, of course, upended.
“Why’d you do that?” she finally asked
when sense and sensibility returned.
“Has a bounty been offered to those who trap
a female poet, by passion burned?”
“Sorry,” I said, “just doing my job,
don’t think of me as your natural predator.
I was asked to capture all feral bardettes
by an overworked, underpaid poetry editor.”
“I assume,” she said, “that you speak of a he,
a man with a plan to bar feminine verse.”
“Uh, yeh,” I replied, “it’s an editing guy
who decreed that distaff stuff’s the worst.”
“What about Dickinson, what about Moore?
What about Sappho, to give you one more?
What about Edna St. Freaking Millay?
I could name you so many you’d probably get bored.”
“Sure, they’re fine, each in her way,”
I danced in response, I practically pavaned her.
“The problem is not just the poems in themselves,
They’re written on paper that’s scented with lavender.”
Available in print and Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “The Girl With the Cullender on Her Head (and Other Wayward Women).”