“Why I Am Not a Poet,” by Chris Bullard

Aug 20th, 2021 | By | Category: Poetry

I am not a poet. I am a lawyer.
Why? Because I’d rather
make money, which I do. Well,

for instance, I stop by my friend’s
studio. “I just finished a poem,”
she says. “How about you take
a look and tell me what you think.”
I read. She watches me read. I
look up, “You have a SARDINE
there.” “Yes, it’s my metaphor
for the past.” “Oh,” I go, “first,
you’re a vegan, so I can’t see
why you’d ever open up a tin
of them. Second, you say
they’re brown and flat, so I
suspect that you’re thinking
of anchovies, not SARDINES,
which are bigger and come
with their shiny scales on. So
that’s a pretty stupid mistake.”
“You are too much,” she says.
“I find your comments to be
arrogant and sexist. It’s
finished between us.” She
throws me out.

But me? One day I am thinking
of a claim: a tort. I write a line
about a tort. Pretty soon, it is a
not just an allegation, but
supporting documents, too.
And then a claim for relief. There
should be much more in damages.
My client was horribly affected.
I file my plea in court. I am a real
lawyer. And one day in The New
Yorker, I see my friend’s poem
which is obviously about me and
it’s called, “SARDINES.”


Chris Bullard lives in Philadelphia. He received his B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.F.A. from Wilkes University. Kattywompus Press published High Pulp, a collection of his flash fiction, in 2017, and Grey Book Press published Continued, a poetry chapbook, this year. His work has appeared in recent issues of Nimrod, Muse/A Journal, The Woven Tale, Red Coyote, Cutthroat, and The Offbeat.

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