Ms. Hayden, On Your Selection of Our Next Poet Laureate:

For poetry to rise again
Seek one who has applied the pen
To that which all can understand,
To verse which is sublime and grand.

Choose one who writes for all to read,
Who is from all pretension freed,
Who can be subtle and be bold,
Whose message speaks to young and old.

Seek one whose words can cross the aisle
And turn a scowl into a smile;
Whose elegance is pure and plain
And can be heard in each refrain.

Turn not away from poetry
That can uplift and set us free!


Mercy’s Song

The cry of vengeance
__shrill and strong,
but from the most
__egregious wrong
comes Mercy’s most
__exquisite song,
so raise your voice
__and sing along!


The Angel of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery*

Ye guardian of souls untold!
Whence comes this garland that you hold?
From bowers of celestial blooms,
you decorate mere mortals’ tombs?

Not all, say I, only the just
who in Our Master placed their trust.
Breathtaking beauty not to waste
on such as thee, by sin dis-graced.

The hourglass yet did not drain.
Scant few the grains that still remain.
But time enough, from His hand sent,
to mend thy ways and to repent.

For every one, ‘tis not too late
to walk in bliss thru Heaven’s Gate.

* the resting place of Washington Irving.


A Grain of Sand

Like sand running thru an hourglass,
the days of our lives so quickly pass.
Tumbling grains—all the joys and pains—
till finally only one remains.

Weigh well my words and don’t misconstrue;
be grateful for the sand in your shoe.


Joe Tessitore is a retired New York City resident and poet.

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16 Responses

  1. E. V.

    Good morning! Thank you for the great poetry, Joe. It would be great if SCP mailed Ms. Hayden a collection of SCP’s poems advocating this position. All 4 poems are all very good. Mercy’s Song and The Angel of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery are powerful. I can’t wait to read future poems from you (and other SCP contributors) while drinking tea from my new Society of Classical Poets mug!

  2. Mark Stone

    Joe, Hello.

    1. First poem. Flawless and wonderful, in my opinion.

    2. Second poem. The first two lines seem to be missing a verb. Perhaps an “is” before “shrill” could be added.

    3. Third poem. This is also a really strong poem. I would change “dis-graced” to “disgraced” and “every one” to “everyone” and “thru” to “through.” And I love this line: “Scant few the grains that still remain.”

    4. Fourth poem. It took me a while to figure out the meter. Lines 1 and 2 are: iamb-anapest-iamb-iamb. And lines 5 and 6 are: iamb-iamb-anapest-iamb. I can’t reach a definite conclusion about the meter of lines 3 and 4; it depends on if you pronounce “tumbling” with two syllables or three syllables. Also, I would change “thru” to “through.” Finally, I would say that this poem is very good advice.

    Thank you for sharing these poems.

    • Joseph Tessitore


      Thanks so much for your comments and criticisms!

      There should have been a comma after “vengeance” in the second poem; “shrill and strong” should have been sectioned off and the poem itself should have been but one sentence. Dashes may have worked to accomplish this as well.

      In the third poem I wanted the angel to sound both different and archaic, and so my use of “dis-graced” (which struck me powerfully when I thought of it), and “every one”.

      I’m glad you liked them, and I appreciate your taking the time to comment on them.

  3. C.B. Anderson


    The first poem is very much on point, but unfortunately, here, at this venue, you are simply preaching to the choir. Why not write a letter directly to the Librarian — it’s not as if formalist poets have never been appointed Poet Laureate.

    • Joseph Tessitore


      This poem came from a previous posting – an open letter to the same Librarian. It was a poem of some sixty lines in length, and I questioned the practicality of sending something that long. Evan challenged me to write something shorter, and so this poem (which, by the way, is also the first sonnet I’ve ever written).

      Dr. Salemi suggested that letters, regardless of their length, will probably have nothing at all to do with the Librarian’s selection. I agree with him.

      I like this poem because I think it’s a pretty comprehensive summary of what I believe poetry should be.

      I hope all is well.


  4. Rajendra Singh Baisthakur

    I like to the first poem “Ms Hayden …..” for its use of simple words to convey a profound thought. Yeah there is need for more good poetry and truly it is a powerful means to better the world.

    • Joseph Tessitore

      Thank you very much,
      I try my best to write that way and am grateful that you appreciate it.

  5. David Watt

    I really enjoyed your poems Joe, particularly the first.
    This poem made me think of the Australian situation in regard to the position of Poet Laureate.

    In 1818 and 1819, the Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie, granted convicted felon Michael Massey Robinson two cows for his services as poet laureate.
    Since then, the post of Australian poet laureate has remained unfilled. I imagine that if the position was reinstated, we may require a formal dairy farmer.

  6. Alexander Ream

    I have much despair as to present establishment corridors naming a poet laureate who is an actual poet. Sewanee, Oxford American, and The Southern Review, I believe, are indicators of the prevailing poetry malaise.

    I actually think we’d need an apocalypse and several hundred years to recover a quality civilization.

  7. Alexander Ream

    having said that: fine poem Joe

    PS – when I was 8, half of my family split from mainline Presbyterianism into a conservative denomination. Though checkered and imperfect, the experience taught me that better quality is obtained either on the margin or by referencing persistent classics from previous eras.

    My perspective could be truncated, though. I hope your poem and it’s wish is successful.

  8. Dusty Grein

    Awesome stuff as always Joe. Like you, I think that a shorter poem will probably have a better chance of being read, but a diversity of forms is always a pleasure, and maybe we will be lucky enough to find that the Hon. Ms. Hayden will be intrigued enough by the responses to read the in depth. 🙂


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