(Originally appeared in The North American Review in 2005)
To: Minna Construction
From: Whetam Gnauckweirst
Please accept this prose poem as a request for employment with your company as court writer, stenographer, poet, and balladeer. I have impeccable personal hygiene, quick reflexes, I'm punctual, observant, have my own vehicle, take few sick days, and make friends easily. I know how to help by staying out of the way. My sense of humor has been described as "off color" and "obscure", however, my daily manner of speech is laden with profanity. I'm an avid watcher of the TV show C.O.P.S., which aids me in relating to the common man.
Why would a construction company need a poet? Because throwing a handful of coins behind nearly finished walls doesn't do justice to the feat of Building. I will write epic poems about your skill and tenacity (Petrarchan sonnets are my specialty), about the vagaries of weather, temperature, and terrain on which you work. I will sing odes during lunch breaks. I'll go out for coffee and sandwiches. I'll produce a monograph dedicated to the band of brothers, to their nail guns and dirty boots when the job is finished. To their camaraderie. And when we repair to the neighborhood tavern for ale and spirits, I will regale patrons with tales nails and wood, drywall and tear-dampened cement. I will produce what your sweaty brows, dirty hands, and two-by-fours will not: life everlasting.