I’m writing this on a plane, Sean Penn,
with my black Pilot Razor ballpoint pen.
Ever since 9/11, I’m a nervous flyer. I leave my Pentium
Processor at home in its pendulous
case. Maybe this should be a sonnet, iambic pentameter,
rather than this mock sestina, each line ending in a Penn
variant. Forgive my insistence on all “Penn”
end words, a way of cheating the demands of the form, Sean Penn.
When I get home I’ll try to justify my Penn
sestina as an obsessive and penetrating
look at you. But, I confess, the practical reason for my penchant
for Penn-sounding end words is because I can’t open
The Idiot’s Guide to Poetry (which I also left at home) to page 176, which happens
to list the order of the six different end words which ordinarily sharpen
a sestina. I sit alone in coach, but last night I sat with four poets, depending
on one another as readers, in a Pittsburgh café. I told them how I tried to be your pen
pal in the mideighties, not because of your pensive
bad boy looks, but because of a poem you’d penned
that appeared in an issue of Frank. Sean, it was great! Especially the penultimate
line. You probably think fans like me are your penance
for your popularity, your star bulging into a pentagon
filled with witchy wannabes and penniless
poets who waddle towards your icy peninsula
of glamour like so many menacing penguins.
But honest, I come in peace, Sean Penn,
writing on my plane ride home to Miami. I want no part of your penthouse
or the snowy slopes of your Aspen.
I won’t stalk you like the swirling grime cloud over Pig Pen.
I have no script or stupendous
novel I want you to option. I even like your wife, Robin Wright Penn.
I only want to keep myself busy on this flight, to tell you of four penny-
loafered poets in Pennsylvania
who, last night, chomping on primavera penne
pasta, pondered poetry, celebrity, Iraq, the penitentiary
of free speech. And how I reminded everyone about the great Sean Penn
poem. I peer out the window and caress my lucky pendant:
Look, Sean Penn, the clouds are drawn with charcoal pencils.
The sky is opening like a child’s first stab at penmanship.
The sun begins to ripen orange, then deepen.