Keepers (6)

By: Stephanie Burt
July 25, 2016

One in a series republishing 10 poems — about everyday objects and pop culture avatars — by HiLobrow friend and contributor Steph Burt.

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Kermit_the_Frog

SELF-PORTRAIT AS MUPPET

Beleaguered
administrators
everywhere, I am one of you.
I came from a swamp too.
It was hard to get out, even harder to be
      young and green
and try to please children, but hardest of all
      to learn

how to run the whole show: I nevertheless
      remain
supposedly in sole charge
of a dance marathon, a masochistic
acrobat, a pig addicted to lipstick
who holds black belts in several
      martial arts,
a talking shag rug eight feet tall, a bear
who tries and tries and fails to entertain,

a pantomime horse whose parts
refuse to leave their Day-Glo yard,
a rock band, and a Pepto-Bismol colored
      pair
of cows from Mars who only know
      one song,
Mahna mahna, whatever that means.
I need a rest.
I sigh, I sag, I shrug in my canvas chair
and perk up again to chat with tonight’s
      special guest,
who asks me why my eyes bug out.
      Go figure.

I used to sit on a wall
all day and read the news. Now we go on
in ten, and I am happy to tell
you what almost anyone
who seems to be running things
will say once you catch us backstage:
      somebody bigger
than we can ever get is pulling the strings.

Copyright © 2013 by Stephen Burt. Reprinted from BELMONT with the permission of the author and Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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ALL POSTS IN THIS SERIES

STEPH BURT at HILOBROW: KEEPERS (10 poems) | GENO (EPIC WINS series) | NO KILL I (KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM series) | ENTANGLEMENT (HERMENAUTIC TAROT series) | HAPPY BIRTHDAY (QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM series).

CURATED SERIES at HILOBROW: NEVER BEGIN TO SING by Damon Krukowski | WTC WTF by Douglas Wolk | COOLING OFF THE COMMOTION by Chenjerai Kumanyika | THAT’S GREAT MARVEL by Douglas Wolk | LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE by Chris Spurgeon | IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Alexandra Molotkow | UNFLOWN by Jacob Covey | ADEQUATED by Franklin Bruno | QUALITY JOE by Joe Alterio | CHICKEN LIT by Lisa Jane Persky | PINAKOTHEK by Luc Sante | ALL MY STARS by Joanne McNeil | BIGFOOT ISLAND by Michael Lewy | NOT OF THIS EARTH by Michael Lewy | ANIMAL MAGNETISM by Colin Dickey | KEEPERS by Steph Burt | AMERICA OBSCURA by Andrew Hultkrans | HEATHCLIFF, FOR WHY? by Brandi Brown | DAILY DRUMPF by Rick Pinchera | BEDROOM AIRPORT by “Parson Edwards” | INTO THE VOID by Charlie Jane Anders | WE REABSORB & ENLIVEN by Matthew Battles | BRAINIAC by Joshua Glenn | COMICALLY VINTAGE by Comically Vintage | BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh | WINDS OF MAGIC by James Parker | MUSEUM OF FEMORIBILIA by Lynn Peril | ROBOTS + MONSTERS by Joe Alterio | MONSTOBER by Rick Pinchera | POP WITH A SHOTGUN by Devin McKinney | FEEDBACK by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FTW by John Hilgart | ANNOTATED GIF by Kerry Callen | FANCHILD by Adam McGovern | BOOKFUTURISM by James Bridle | NOMADBROW by Erik Davis | SCREEN TIME by Jacob Mikanowski | FALSE MACHINE by Patrick Stuart | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE by Significant Objects | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE by Significant Objects | UNBORED MANIFESTO by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen | H IS FOR HOBO by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FRIDAY by guest curators

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