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jason primm


What’s worse than a stranger’s

typed poem in my lap?

Never mind, I know:

a loved one’s whole manuscript,

binder-clipped, with stuck

notes hanging over the edges.

Don’t worry. I’m not mad.

I’ve done it too, marked up

the poem like I was marking

the person. I, too, have said

go away and I don’t forgive you

with faint praise about a good

first draft or circled one line

and wrote, “Wow.”

You weren’t fair to the poem

but I agree. I’m still an ass.

Of course, friends or not,

the object of the game

is to dodge the poems,

to be the one who receives

all the praise. I won’t read

a poem unless I’m cornered.

I was at a party once where

someone read a sestina,

and everyone jumped head-

first into the bushes

one floor down, the black

stocking legs of the women

waving in the crisp November air.

You know that’s a lie.

I don’t go to parties.

I’ve dodged poetry books

on my shelves for decades.

Friends and lovers can be

deceived. It’s the great poems

that you should fear the most.

Those are the snares on the soft floor

of the old woods that you’ll never

pull your foot from.

Jason Primm pursues modest goals in a coastal city. When he isn’t writing, he can be found sharpening his slice backhand. His work has most recently appeared in Juxtaprose Magazine, Light/Water, Palaver, Rust + Moth and The Columbia College Literary Review. He maintains a blog at

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