Brown Teapot

Fool your friends! the ads for dribble cups
in the back of comics promised, but this
is a serious teapot, short and stout,
though tip me up and pour me out
it puddles tea on the table top
or in my lap, no matter what.

It's not a trick, it's cheap and not
funny, ill-designed, the knob on the lid
too small to be pinched and held
by thumb and forefinger when it's hot
or wet, and the lid slides off and drops
when the teapot's steeply tipped.

When I squint inside I can never tell
if the tea is weak or strong, it all looks brown.
This teapot's the sort of brown that goes
with nothing else in the kitchen,
in the house, or anywhere,
but is purely itself, a brown
that insults taste but forestalls criticism.
It's not a matter of aesthetics,
it rejects aesthetics, it is just matter.
It is not even ugly, the concept of
beauty does not apply, it cannot be
discussed in such effete terms.

Because we use it twice a day, it seems
larger than it is, one could say
it assumes a disproportionate sort
of importance — a centuries-old
functional form of the earth shaped
and fired, and which has itself
shaped the nature
of a land, a culture, a people.

If it had a mind of its own
it would tell me to shove it,
this subjective, impressionistic,
muddleheaded nonsense: wrong.