The Worst Poem Ever Written

sses itself until the words
are just ers and ums, like transfers
not sticking to a sweaty surface.

Academics are fair with their reading,
come to it democratically
to feel something missing spasm.
They convert The Worst Poem Ever Written
into a number, then keep subtracting
till, for them, it goes away

but this dreadful poem exists somewhere:
in the internet, floating, e published,
doing damage by being.
It gets into every poem written after,
by everyone, darkening everything,
ubiquitous as regret.

My family are happier after I write
The Worst Poem Ever Written.
I’m just me again, no taproots to genius.
They continue their left-off project
of implying over plates and mugs
the variety of ways I am,
have been and will be,

I am sponsored to give up writing,
spend the time perfecting origami cranes
though inside, years off but imminent,
a real poem grows
like Jupiter exploding slowly in reverse.

Graham Clifford lives in London. His most recent collection is Well, published (Against the Grain, 2019). His poems have appeared in Magma, The Rialto and Ink, Sweat and Tears.

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