Mr. Incognito and Critical Opinion
"Inside me, an Eastern European poet
Is trying to get out."
-Joan Hewitt, "Block"
The life of Mr. Incognito changed
after he published his second book of poems.
He was praised by true critics
for his brutal lyricism,
and condemned by fools for being old hat.
In any case he started to care
for what others thought, and that was dangerous,
living under Dictator Fear in the Regime of Sloth.
He drew the curtains,
stuffed paper under the door of his tenuous apartment
and tried writing in the dark.
It worked for a week.
Then the phone told him his book
did not win the prize he despised.
What was Mr. Incognito to do?
He took his hat off the hook,
slammed the door behind him and walked
down to the waterfront. There
hefty men he did not know were unloading
crates of oranges
that they had loaded on the boat in the morning.
This crazy country! Doing and undoing
what was done.
It was getting cold
but he shrugged and waited for a free orange
to roll his way.