Poem: To the young poet who wants my advice but does not want to buy my book

This is a Napowrimo poem – a minor rant/kvetch written prettily.

Welcome to a small and delicate ecology
There are some tall trees – they have been growing for decades
There is some charismatic megafauna
You might know from the telly
We call them by their names and talk with friendly respect
But this is not a land of giants
It is a small, interbalanced world
It is exciting and vivid and beautiful
But it is not large, it is not rich
There is little gold in them there hills

If you stay you will learn to appreciate the small beauties
The rich velvet textures of rows of backlit audiences
The tops of their heads like moss in sunlight
The small, perfect flowers opening up night after night
The delicate trills of the open mic birdcalls
Paper flapping in hand that first, tremulous time
The babbling brook of trial and error and fail better
The rare predator we part away from like shoals of fish
The seasonal migrations of festivals and Fringes
The rich forest floor of tickets and pamphlets and home-burnt CDs
The mulch that old work churns into, to fertilise new growth:
New gigs, and sometimes: rent money.
We are a community, we are an ecology
We are doing our best to survive and thrive

You ask me for advice like directions
‘Please point me to the way to success’
As if there is a clear route to the top
As if this were a game to be won
As if no one else had thought of winning it before
As we talk I see your opinion of me shift:
From awe that I can teach you so much,
To pity that I have not yet cracked the code
And you buy yourself a third cocktail
And you do not buy my book
Though you photograph the cover so you can maybe find it online
(Cheaper)
And you ask me for more advice
On how to make this your career

I know you might not mean to, but you need to know:
I hear logging and strip-mining in your questions
I see a would-be big-game hunter in your swagger
And you need to know:
You have read this map wrong.
You are welcome in our prairies, to bathe in our streams
But this world is not mineral deposits and money
This world never was, likely will never be
What little we have we try to share around
Our tallest trees are not here to be felled or overtaken
And if you stop to enjoy their shade you will not want to

You are excitable and you may have a lot to give
But first sit a while, listen a while
This land is beautiful if you would stop to see it
But the tallest mountains are a painted backdrop
Your professors put them there and they look fine enough so we left them
But the world you seek is around you
The soil is rich
It will not be rushed
And you have to give to receive.

 

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