The New Poetry Handbook by Mark Strand

If a man understands that which he has written
then surely he is in grave trouble.

And if he dies without having lived out his life
then surely he was always alone.

And if he lives with only two poems written
then surely he has not been faithful
to himself.

If a man is able to bring into this world
that which was resting internally
he will have that child
forever to hold in his arms
and mental-thoughts of old.

If he wears the crown upon his head
surely the rest of the world
will soon acknowledge him
as the king of his own mind.

And if he gets angry
then surely he will bring forth the
emotional outpour of other men
who get what he is getting

And if he continues in such a fashion
surely someone else will come
along to match him.

And if he is publicly denounced
then surely he will be even more brilliant
in himself.

And if he gives it all up for the sake
of love or lust then he will have
both, if he must.

If he is a braggard
then let him be loved by those
foolish enough to esteem
vain pride and ignomity.

If he seeks the attention sought
let him celebrate his victory
with the moonlight.

And if writes to praise his fellow man
then let him fall into the hands
of a beautiful girl who will
treat him right.

If he prizes that which belongs to another
then let his heart swell up
for he is reciprocating the love of
splendor which shines through
the inter-play of author and reader.

If he lets it stand as is,
then he shall know the proudness
of being naked without fear.

And if it is death which he is afraid of,
may he be saved by life.

And if he does not,
let him be killed off then.

And if he finishes that which he has begun
let him bask in the glory of
that which emerged
without opinion
or worth.