Prayer of the Guilty Poet

Before I put these words to ink,
Be still, my pen, and let me think.
Are they the balm to expiate,
Or bomb indeed, to detonate?



A City Short

Make no excuse,
I heard a sneeze!
Old man, produce
Your papers, please!



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

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14 Responses

  1. Paul W Erlandson

    Very witty, Joe!

    I must ask, in the case of the first, how did you answer yourself?

    The second is chilling in its brevity and directness. File under Non-Fiction, sadly.

    • Joe Tessitore

      jd’s right – both, and lately it’s getting harder and harder to find the balm.

  2. Russel Winick


    Great stuff. I love them! And have found myself saying that prayer many times!

  3. Lannie David Brockstein

    Why should any poet be shamed if the narrator or character in their poem uses weaponized language? Where is it written that every narrator or character in a poem has to be a hero? Movies have characters who are villains, as do plays. So why not poems, too? What would George Lucas’ “Star Wars” saga be without Darth Vader? What would Shakespeare’s “Othello” be without Iago?

    Regarding the off-stage language of anybody who, in being off-stage, is therefore not portraying a fictional character—of course their use of language should not be weaponized, and all the more so when children are present.

    This comments section is this page’s off-stage area, whereas its poem and essay section is its on-stage area. To recognize that boundary, is to knowingly respect the difference between fantasy and reality.

    For anybody to limit another by shaming (which is a form of bullying) them for what kind of language can be used in their poem and thus on-stage, is oppressive. It is as unethical as not insisting that what is said off-stage should always be civilized—even if what is said be words of dissent. If something cannot be said off-stage with decorum, then it is either not yet ready to be said off-stage, or it is ready to be voiced on-stage provided that it is also artistically expressed.

    The weaponized use of language is deadly, but not when used on-stage by an actor who is performing the role of a fictional character that is an evil character—and similar to the way that on-stage, all swords and guns are mere props and not the real thing.


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