William Baer


The History of Western Poetry

Meter, of course, is classicist;
Rhyme is Catholic-medieval;
Blank verse is lapsed and Anglicist;
Vers libre is French (and evil).


Poem on the Lam

The thing took off about three weeks ago,
soon spotted (though the cops don’t give a damn!)
picking fights at the Cheyenne Rodeo,
then stoned in Vegas, Rio, and Amsterdam.
So what’s it really really want? Who knows?
In truth, it seemed quite typical of its times,
quite ordinary, another one of those
“Who am I really?” sonnets with silly rhymes.
But now it’s “turned itself in” at the Palms Hotel,
flush with uppers, flashing a switchblade knife,
screaming, “Send me back to my 14-walled cell;
I need a little order in my life!”
It seems that even this reluctant poem
at last decided there’s no place like home.


William Baer, a recent Guggenheim fellow, is the author of 16 books, including five collections of poetry, most recently “Bocage” and Other Sonnets (recipient of the X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize). His other books include Luís de Camões: Selected Sonnets; The Ballad Rode into Town; and The Unfortunates (recipient of the T.S. Eliot Award). A former Fulbright (Portugal) and recipient of a NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, his poems have been published in Ploughshares, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, The Hudson Review, The American Scholar, and The Virginia Quarterly Review.