Cover of "Poetry Shmoetry" a collection of 5 Poems by Steve Denehan

"Poetry Shmoetry" a collection of 5 Poems by Steve Denehan

Some poets become wildly popular. Some find inner peace. Some woo lovers or inspire nations. But most poets—well, most watch their poems collect rejection letters like cat hair on black pants before rolling over at the end of their quiet little life and saying, “poetry shmoetry!” These poems by Steve Denehan are for them.

No Simultaneous Submissions

There are poetry journals operated by editors

whose pens contain no blood

only ink

they specify no simultaneous submissions

endeavour to respond within six months

eight months

a year

maybe longer

they send generic, nameless rejection notes

with salutations like

Dear author

Dear writer

Dear poet




they do not send rejection notes at all

will be in touch only

if they are interested

it is easy for me to whinge and moan of course

if I really wanted to change things

I could start my own journal

do it the way it should be done


I have better things to do with my time

than to trawl through poem after poem

dozens, hundreds, thousands

all, steaming piles of dog puke

like this one

My First Poetry Reading

I did not enjoy it

but got through it

a short poem

read quickly and without conviction

afterwards, I sat at a table

he stood over me

the editor

a big man

waxing lyrical

about the journal

his visionary leadership

his unfinished novel

eventually bemoaning the state of the world

eventually posing the question

rhetorically of course

Do you know the only thing that can save the world?

That can really make a difference?

he wallowed in the theatrical pause

I waited

and waited

for the punchline

it came

as he stared into the middle distance


you will find it hard to believe

I can barely believe it myself

but I swear to you

I remained perfectly still and did not

I promise

laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh

right into his face

My First Submission to a Bigshot Poetry Journal

I pressed SUBMIT

sat back in my chair

wondering just how long

it would be

before they read

my few poems

and responded

I thought to myself

maybe, if they really like them

or really hate them

they’ll reply within the hour


if they are seriously considering them

I might hear back


or the next day

after all

how many halfwits

would bother

submitting to poetry journals

six months passed


turns out

that lots of halfwits bother submitting to poetry journals

Another Poet, Another Interview

I read an interview today

a poet

you might know the type

he spoke of himself

almost with reverence

talked very seriously

about his “work”

explained how he was a conduit

as though he was the first

mentioned “the muse”

as though they were sleeping together

talked of “his craft”, “his craft”, “his craft”

of course

he is a priest

and we

the poor unwashed

receive his poems

as communion

on our grateful tongues

he saved the best for last

before drowning

in an ocean

of clichés

patiently explaining

to the interviewer

and the reader

how he takes his life

his experiences

and absorbs them

processes them

distils them

into something else

what a guy

I am writing this poem

on my phone

on the toilet

where I am doing

much the same

The Red Nib – Pens and Swords

Impaled by anger

cold and pure and through me

I am unsettled by my strange detachment from it all

my mind is calm but

my palms are clammy

my shoulders tight

my skin burning

feeling as it if has moved slightly

and no longer fits

he is an editor

not of words

but of people

his casual disdain has edited me

given my blood voice

a quiet, trembling roar

that reaches all of my edges

his callousness so perfect

that it reaches across cities and streams

time and hope

to nest in my stomach and snigger