“Sensible Plans for the Use of Poets,” by Robert Buswell

Oct 25th, 2017 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

There can be little doubt that poets do not contribute greatly to society. Their work, produced in vast abundance, is nearly valueless to our species. Indeed, the great bulk of their efforts are simply given away; the poems cannot be sold. Yet, I believe that poets are capable of contributing meaningfully to the human endeavor and I propose the following ways in which we may put poets to use.

Our prisons are overflowing with able-bodied men and women who are perfectly suited for manual labor. We feed and house these prisoners, yet reap no benefit. Were we only to replace prisoners with poets, then we would immediately increase the workforce by hundreds of thousands. Poets can surely perform their work just as easily in concrete boxes.

The public may object to this arrangement, though, because it necessitates the release of criminals. If this be the case, then there are other uses for poets. There are many people in the armed forces who could find more productive and less dangerous work elsewhere. If we replaced soldiers with poets, then we would again increase our workforce with no loss to society. As an additional benefit, the poet’s experiences in battle will undoubtedly make poetry generally more compelling.

The public may not support this reasonable plan, though, on the grounds that poets are especially unsuited to soldiering. The public may also believe that we lack enough jobs as it is, rendering both of these suggestions unpalatable.

As mentioned above, poets should be capable of performing their craft in concrete boxes. Further, they’ll already be situated when they die, which will reduce funeral costs for their families. Cremating the dead and using graveyards to store poets would ease overpopulation and reduce the amount of food required for poets, as they will undoubtedly be less active. Additionally, poets would feel closer to their source material, since they frequently contemplate and write about death.

Nevertheless, the poets themselves may object to this arrangement. The poets may say they need to see the world around them to write effectively. Fine, then let them take the place of lampposts. We waste thousands of tons of perfectly good steel in supporting light fixtures over our streets, highways, and parking lots. Were these poles replaced by poets holding lamps, then perhaps we could recycle the steel into more weapons to create further misery for the poets to bemoan. Surely, also, the poets will notice something poetic in the idea that they are metaphorically as well as physically shining a light into the dark.

If the public objects on the grounds that poets are flabby, lazy creatures with poor upper body strength, then perhaps poets can replace the victims of police killings. Whenever some unfortunate soul is about to be killed by police, then let him call for a poet. The police, considering their views on the arts in general, will no doubt happily wait until the poet is in place before opening fire. This solution would absolve the police of any guilt for loss of life and allow them to safely take their prisoner into custody.

If all these remedies should fail to win approval, then we must continue with our current plan of letting the poets starve. Having made it impossible to earn any kind of living writing poetry, we are all conspiring to eliminate the poetic gene from our collective pool. Poets will be gone eventually, but I urge that we implement one or more of my suggestions to make better use of them before they go.


Robert Buswell is the chosen moniker of a writing collective from the state of Maryland. The group consists of over 6,000 journalists, writers, playwrights, screenwriters, songwriters, and poets who publish the entirety of their output under this pseudonym. Slightly more than 30% of the group object to the use of this particular name, arguing that the first pseudonym used by the collective, Theodore Alphonso Whister, felt heavier and held more literary weight. The organization does not create poetry. It uses the poets within itself for more menial chores.

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