Poems In Search Of A File Number

I have written these poems
Examples of which I have submitted
But as yet they lie dry upon the page

They are really performance pieces
Meant to be read aloud in nightclubs where smoking is permitted
That’s where the Canada Council comes in

For the investment of a modest touring grant
I bet I could mesmerize beatnik boîtes
In places like Amsterdam and Istanbul and Montevideo

So on behalf of my art and my country
Please rush me the application forms

Here’s the concept:
Me at a podium on a darkened stage
A single spotlight
I start to read

At every pause I take a swig of beer
Between poems I light cigarettes
You can see how the costs start to add up

You, the jurist, may be skeptical
You may say to yourself:
If this applicant craves the applause of an audience
Why didn’t he just learn to play the guitar?

But let me turn the question on its head:
If I could make a career strumming my words to music
I wouldn’t need the Canada Council, would I?

No one should be denied an audience
Just because he cannot carry a tune
So give generously, jury members of the Canada Council
Do not let the voices of the dry poets be stilled

The Council only exists
To compensate for what the market abhors
So I want what’s coming to me