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The Correspondence School Instructor Says Goodbye To His Poetry Students

 Goodbye, lady in Bangor, who sent me
snapshots of yourself, after definitely hinting
you were beautiful; goodbye,
Miami Beach urologist, who enclosed plain
brown envelopes for the return of your very
Clinical Sonnet; goodbye, manufacturer
of brassieres on the Coast, whose eclogues
give the fullest treatment in literature yet
to the sagging-breast motif; goodbye, you in San Quentin,
who wrote, "Being German my hero is Hitler,"
instead of "Sincerely yours," at the end of long,
neat-scripted letter demolishing
the pre-Raphaelites:

I swear to you, it was just my way
of cheering myself up, as I licked
the stamped, self-addressed envelopes,
the game I had
of trying to guess which one of you, this time,
had poisoned his glue.
I did care.
I did read each poem entire.
I did say what I thought was the truth in the mildest words I know.
And now, in this poem, or chopped prose, not any better, I realize, than those troubled lines I kept sending back to you, I have to say I am relieved it is over: at the end I could feel only pity for that urge toward more life your poems kept smothering in words, the smell of which, days later, would tingle in your nostrils as new, God-given impulses to write.
Goodbye, you who are, for me, the postmarks again of shattered towns-Xenia, Burnt Cabins, Hornell- their loneliness given away in poems, only their solitude kept.

by Galway Kinnell
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