He Told Me Poetry Does One of Two Things

He told me that poetry does one of two things
as he returned the pieces of me I had given him,
and ushering me out the door
he set upon me one simple task:
to write a new piece for the next day
that did one of the two things.

He told me that poetry does one of two things
and for a second I could’ve sworn
that they sounded like rules
and although I’ve never been one
to abide by the rules
I swore I’d at least try to follow this one.

He told me that poetry does one of two things
I repeated as I stared at a blank white typewriter page
and writers’ block came to build barricades around my brain
as I struggled to write something that would please him.

He told me that poetry does one of two things
and suddenly I remembered a book
from back when I preferred picture books
to poetry books.
And I distinctly remember the cover,
pink and blue
and split in two
and the words “Coke or Pepsi”
written in bold white letters.
I remembered how we used to gather our friends
and answer all the questions in the book
and I remember how the book unknowingly split
the entire world’s population into one of two categories.
But the one thing I remember the most
is that every time that stupid book asked me Coke or Pepsi,
I would boldly respond with Mountain Dew.

He told me that poetry does one of two things
I refused to believe
as I came to the realization
that the world doesn’t fit into one of two categories
that between Coke, Pepsi and Mountain Dew,
there will be someone who hates pop
and will answer orange juice
that there is no such thing as black or white,
that black and white are really only the extreme shades of grey.
And if I can’t get the world to fit into one of two categories,
I sure as hell won’t be able to make poetry fit
because poetry is you
and poetry is me
and poetry is the world we see
and my poetry is a mirror that reflects only me
and when I look into it
the only one who’ll need to love what she sees,
the one with the sole right to hate what’s inside
will be the one staring back with a smile in her eyes.

He told me that poetry does one of two things
I kept in mind
as I picked up my pen and started to write,
the writers’ block gone because I came to realize
that I can’t be everyone’s cup of tea,
so I needed to write for me.
And I found that inspiration came easier
when I stopped trying to write to please others,
and started writing to please me.
And I knew that this piece would infuriate him
but to that I have only one response:
I guess my poetry does a third of two things.