Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cover Story

Chatting with poet friends about the relative merits of different approaches to writing cover letters for manuscript submissions, I came up with the ultimate cover letter. I don't think I will be actually sending it.

Dear Editor,

Thank the man who delivers this,
he has risked his life for art.
I am being held by the Taliban,
or possibly the CIA, hard to tell,
in a tiny bamboo cage somewhere
I am not sure where but it is hot
and dusty, and I am hot and dusty
and the only thing that keeps me alive
is writing poetry and hoping
it will appear in a journal like yours.
My guards let me out of my cage
five times a day for prayer
and if I were a Muslim I would pray
but instead I use the time
writing poems in the dust with a stick
where my friend finds them
and writes them on cigarette papers
that are easily concealed
and after they have served their purpose
can be filled with tobacco and smoked.
You living in America can have no idea
of how much people smoke around here,
wherever that is. They roll their own
but prefer American cigarettes
when they can get them. I don't doubt
that I could buy my freedom for as little
as two cartons of Marlboros
but did not think to bring any with me
as I was being kidnapped. I am not,
I must assure you, an MFA candidate,
nor a professor of creative writing,
not a careerist full of ambition, no.
My only ambition is to survive
and someday, inshallah, see a copy
of your journal containing even one
of the poems before you now,
and I cannot rule out the possibility
that if my poems appear in your journal,
it will focus attention on my captivity
that might save my life. I hope
you like the poems.
David Weinstock
Somewhere hot and dusty


  1. Might want to pick a good pseudonym first...

  2. Suggested pseudonym:

    Captain Koons

  3. *Light Verse Quarterly* might love this poem.

  4. Are you paying over $5 per pack of cigs? I buy my cigarettes over at Duty Free Depot and I'm saving over 70% from cigs.


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