issue 32 poetry

Pay the poets!

by  Nicole Tallman

Color photo of a small side building half covered in corrugated panels. Stenciled on the front is ACCOHANNOCK TRIBE OYSTER FRITTERS. A man is standing at the carryout window.
Oyster Fritters Carryout by Willy Conley

Pay the poets!

Pay the poets!

In real money, not just in flowers or free drinks or books!

Give us rock star status!

World tour all the poets (not just Rupi) in the fancy concert halls!

Dress us up in ball gowns or tuxes and in VERSACE or Chanel!    
Some poets may not like this fanfare, being shy or introverted or both.

But you can still pay the poets!

Some rock stars are shy and introverted, and you pay them beaucoup.

So, pay the poets!

We’re writing lyrics and performing on stages just for you.

Who said not to pay the poets?

We like nice things—trips, wine and perfume.

And having the necessities, like housing, healthcare and food.        
We’re working all kinds of crazy jobs just to pay our bills.

Please pay the poets, so we don’t have to work at [insert name of non-poetry workplace here]!

We’re writing these poems for posterity, often for free and always for you.

Nicole Tallman is the Poetry Ambassador for Miami-Dade County and Poetry Editor for The Blue Mountain Review. She is the author of Something Kindred and Poems for the People, and her next book, FERSACE, is forthcoming in November 2023. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @natallman and at

Willy Conley is a photographer/writer whose work appears in the books Photographic Memories, Plays of Our Own, The World of White Water, Listening Through the Bone, The Deaf Heart, No Walls of Stone, Visual-Gestural Communication, and Deaf World. He is a retired professor of theatre arts at Gallaudet University in D.C.