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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Missouri's seach for a poet stops here

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I have truly never contemplated any other career position other than the newspaper business. I acknowledge that some among you might suggest I consider other options but, at this point in life, I'm too old to learn new tricks. Actually, I'm getting old enough to even forget some old tricks.

But an opportunity has blossomed that might just well pull me away from my ink-stained profession and allow me to enter a more genteel world. I am officially putting my name into consideration to become the state's first poet laureate, a post being created by Gov. Matt Blunt. Blunt says he will name the state's first poet laureate by the end of this year. So Matt, I'm your guy.

It seems that Missouri is one of the last remaining states without someone in this lofty, titled post. That person - likely me, no doubt - would travel the state to promote the arts. But more importantly, that person would also compose the state's first official poem to honor our great state. The poet laureate would visit libraries and schools and undoubtedly give "readings" of our first official state poem.

Let me assure Gov. Blunt that my tenure as poet laureate would not be like a similar post in New Jersey. That's state's leading poet composed a little ditty about the World Trade Center disaster that ruffled feathers from the Jewish community. I assure you, my poetic efforts would not a feather ruffle.

I confessed that I have been less than a fan of the poetry community in the past. Call it ignorance. You would not be the first. My oft-stated problem with poetry is that it's subjective, not objective. In other words, virtually anything can pass for poetry because the beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

I'll stick with the learned advice of a long-forgotten English teacher of mine who said, "If it don't rhyme, it ain't a poem." I've tried to pattern my life in poetry on that sage advice.

I don't mean to be petty, but I notice the poet laureate position in Missouri is to serve without compensation. But the more I think about it, that's probably a fair value for my poetic skills.

Now just because I know Matt (that's Gov. Blunt to most of you) on a first name basis, I don't expect to be handed the title. Even though a political endorsement in next year's gubernatorial race hangs in the balance, I don't want the Governor to give me extra consideration. So I have penned the following poem just to whet the appetite of those making this important decision. Here goes!

Here in the Midwest,

we can't even agree.

Is it Missour-uh

Or is it Missour-ee?

St. Louis on the East,

K.C. on the west

But down in our corner

the Bootheel's the best.

We boast of Mark Twain

and his fence-painting tales.

We boast of J.C. Penney

the king of retails.

The Cardinals, the Royals

our big league crews.

Both down in the dumps,

both singing the blues.

The Mighty Mississippi

And the Missouri, too.

Two great rivers

with so much to do.

I'll live in this state

from beginning to end.

And proudly lay my head here

when the good Lord does send.

I hope those in power,

in that Jefferson City mob

name me poet laureate.

I need the job!

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen