Wednesday, September 03, 2014


This summer I spent a month at Poetry Boot Camp.
It was Hell.

We stayed in dorms named after famous poets.
The women got the Emily Dickinson Cottage.
It was great for them-
Fresh eggs from local chickens at breakfast every morning.
Tea and scones served by shirtless Italian waiters
every afternoon at 3.

The men were packed into the Bukowski Barracks.
We were only given two hours sleep each night,
not allowed to shower,
and fed a straight diet of ham sandwiches and beer.
They pumped so much beer into us
that by the third day
you could have taken my piss,
bottled it,
put it on the supermarket shelf,
labeled it ‘Coors’,
and nobody could have told the difference.

We started each day with drills.
There was a Spoken Word Breath Control drill
where you had to repeat your name ten times
without stopping to breath.
Tom Dix won that every day.
I had a Spanish friend,
Pablo Suarez de Jesus Escondido Maria Montoya Escalan de Gama,
 - he almost died.

The drill sergeants were all
named after Beat Poets.
You didn’t mess with the one we called Ginsburg.
If you made a mistake, he made you talk
the rest of the day using haiku.
Yoda Haiku.
Excuse me-
Haiku, spoke we in,
As if Yoda we were... oy.
Easy, not, it was.

There were games-
An Adverb Scavenger Hunt.
Pin the Simile on the Metaphor.
Spin the Hyperbole.
If you fucked THAT up
Ginsburg hit you on the head
with a copy of
The Collected Works of Rod McKuen.

Then the Slam Team Trainers came for us.
Their motto was,
“We Put The Slam in Slamming”.
They had arm bands featuring
the velociraptor from Jurassic Park.
We jogged to and from every class,
shouting Kill! Kill! Kill!
at the top of our lungs
in iambic pentameter.

They taught us to achieve the mindset
of the Professional Poetry Slammer-
“You are my opponent.
I admire your work and wish you luck.
I applaud your every victory,
I will crush you like a bug”.

At Graduation we had to get our diplomas
by running over a 20-foot long bed of
fiery, red hot consonants.
I got a Q stuck between my toes and
couldn’t walk for a week.

This summer I spent a month at Poetry Boot Camp,
and it was Hell.
But why am I standing here
telling you all about it?
The next session starts in an hour-
the buses are waiting outside-
So saddle up, poets!
The Dickinson Cottage
and Bukowski Barracks
are waiting for you!

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