The Forgotten Poet

Will I be given a second chance?

My life as a poet ended in 1978

when I stopped writing

Book sales had declined

I was sleeping on park benches

Eating leftover food from restaurants

Once I wrote 17 books of love poetry

Through the years I met many

who bought my poetry books

For years letters have arrived

from readers wanting to connect

Now it seems the lights are turned off

Until recently

Now I receive requests

from new readers

wishing to visit me

I welcome their visits

Age does not seem to matter

I don’t look as good as I once did

But my heart is still as young

I receive kind letters from

Sweden, Canada, France, and England

Friendships have flourished

Many readers from the states

have visited

We dine and chat with easy laughter

I notice sales of my books increase

when they return home

and show my poetry books to friends

bookstores and libraries

Maybe once again

it will be like when I was in my

20’s and 30’s

Back then I lived from

the sales of my poetry books

It may be happening again

thanks to my being open to visitors

I never believed this could happen

but a lady named Gypsy Mercer

published 4 of my books

during the past 2 years

and then magic happened

It created unbelievable sales

I once dated a beautiful girl named Gypsy

She knew how to do magic

Yesterday, an 82-year-old man wrote me

to say he read my four new books

He said I made memories of his youth

come alive making memories return from his youth

He had bought all 4 books and said

he was sending them to me to autograph

So you might be asking

am I getting rich from book sales?

Almost, I am able to buy cheese, crackers & wine

I am happy

My books are now once again selling

why i write bad poetry

I got this letter today

okay, I’ll level with you

I’ve received many letters

over the years

more than 27

English professors

saying my poetry is

just plain bad

cause I don’t rhyme

and don’t know how

a poem is constructed

I write back

and say I don’t like

my poetry either

I tell them

I never had a poetry class

I was taught by

friendly bums

with teeth missing

sitting on the benches

in front of my local

Louisville Public Library

these bums shared

poems they wrote on

torn paper sacks

saved from buying liquor

They shared their secrets

how they wrote notes & poems

as we shared liquor

& passed the bottle

back and forth for sips

we laughed at their poems

they taught me all

I needed to know

these 27 (or more) Professors wrote

basically the same words:


(the professors even write

“no wonder we can’t get

students to enjoy poetry”)

I tell them

I can’t stop myself

It’s just what I do

I write bad stuff

like car mechanics

and plumbers

who say they fixed

your problem

charge you money



and you discover

nothing was ever

fixed for more

than one day

I ain’t that bad

I refund money

if a reader

does not like

any book I write

now that I’m thinking

about it

I’ve never

had a poetry book


The ocean is calling me

It keeps


years later

I slept on the beaches

watching waves

walking on white sand

picking up shells

Easy to sleep

as sunset

turned to darkness

I was going to return

to a

forever life

I returned to

to finish college

and tripped over

life there

and never returned

During the nights

while trying

to sleep

I hear the ocean waves

calling me

each night

–Jim Wortham — December 8, 2021

%d bloggers like this: