In college there was this guy named Ian
who would stand on a pile of bricks
that everyone just called “The Wall.”
He would stand there and shout
poetry at everyone walking by.
Most people just assumed he was insane,
because, in a way, he was.

But it was the most beautiful poetry
I’d ever heard:
words cut and polished
like gems on a string,
each one unexpected
and yet exactly where it belonged.

I spent countless hours
trying to sound like him,
but I could never be Ian;
I could only be someone trying to be Ian.

Twelve years later,
I was in a bookstore,
and I saw a book by him.
I thought, wow, it’s Ian,
the greatest poet ever.
I opened it and started to read.

And there, in the middle of the first page,
I saw it:
a “you” that should have been “your.”
At first I thought maybe it was a play on words
so subtle I couldn’t grasp it,
but, no,
it was a mistake.
I closed the book.
I cried.

And then I drove home,
threw away all my unfinished work,
and started writing poetry
that sounded like me.