Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Open Mike, Week #1

Last night I stood up during Northampton Poetrys open mike period and read something I’d written. It was a lot of fun, I’m glad I did it. Now I’m going to be even more self-indulgent and post it here. Friends who read my book catalogs may notice some similarity of tone and style -

Your poem is lovely, she said.
Quite charming.

Lovely? Charming?
I’d hoped she’d say moving,
thoughtful, thought-provoking,
intense, insightful, inspired,
brilliant, barn-burner, bad-ass!
You’ve written a poem that would make
Charles Bukowski weep with pride!!!

But lovely?
How about-

It was a poem about a homeless man
who gets flattened like a pancake by a bus
on the 12th street bridge.
Charles Bukowski gently wept.

I wanted that poem to make her
question her beliefs,
fight the system, rage against the machine,
re-arrange all the paradoxes
and go help me save a little baby seal.

I wanted that poem to make her
quit her job as a bank analyst
and dress up in gypsy bohemian caftan
and write rude emails to Ted Cruz.

I wanted that poem
to make us have hot poet sex
on the floor
of T.S. Elliot’s kitchen.

Charming doesn’t get you there.
Charming gets you high tea
in William Wordsworth’s living room.

I dragged out the dictionary
and logged into my account
on Wiki-Synonyms dot com.
I pricked my finger and,
by the light of a black candle,
swore a blood oath
never to rhyme again.

I tore that poem open,
took a pail full of adverbs,
and stuffed that sucker up.
I removed every word suggesting
a color brighter than gray.
I called my cousin,
the career Navy man,
for some evocative words for
interesting bodily functions.

Well, she said,
putting down the poem,
her eyes fixed on the table,
her face the color of unripe dough:
This is- interesting.
Sort of like ... phlegm.

That’s cool.
It wasn’t getting me into
T.S. Elliot’s kitchen,
and the little baby seals
will have to make it through
another winter without us,
but at least it wasn’t fucking lovely.
It’s a start.

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