Contemporaries and Snobs – Poem by Prageeta Sharma
after Laura Riding Jackson

There’s a structure for idiocy—lamplight—
all over the nation; it’s an illumination
with such sheer creative force it is misrecognized genius.
I have misunderstood people’s duplicitous ways—their lightbulbs—
as righteous forms of complexity;
not calculated obfuscations.
Much like the voice in a poem that insists it sing
the most important seer of light.
Am I providing this luxury as well?
Or is this my radical assertion in order to
call into question what an aesthetic authority looks like?
(That’s my problem with the poem these days.)

(The light in my office flickers on and off—the lamp is broken.)
I see no enlightenment here, much like I see my acquaintances:
bright lights and night lights.
The fragility of the intellectual is the same as the poet’s:
It’s all about the I and its desperate sense of the we.
Prageeta Sharma