poetry reading at a borders bookstore

October 11, 2009

They sat welldressed and clustered, walled in by a Borders bookshelf, I gazing in at the poet speaking into mic from the side. Beside me sat a disgruntled man clearly not present because of the poetry but willing to give it a chance. He ate a reeses fastbreak and giggled during pauses in her words, discovering some kind of secret humor in the professional mask this woman wore as she read pages from her chapbooks which she had marked earlier in preparation for people to hear.

I hardly heard her over the sound of the thick man in purple suitcoat whose white-haired-head bobbed as each poem reached an end in attempts to convince the room he understood and approved its message. The poet interrupted herself mid-poem to acknowledge the entrance of those who belonged in the circle of people she had come to entitle “poetry,” speaking abstractly of her wonderful acquaintances in attendance.

Earlier that day at the homeless shelter, my coworker started strumming the blues on his guitar. A woman stood and sang in sultry impromptu voice:

well
one summer night i was walking
i was walking down the road
and well
if you asked which way i was walking
i couldn’t tell you yes or no

And her passion-sound was poetry to the homeless inhabitants of the room, everyone bobbing their heads to the senseless words composed while they watched expectant, somehow thick with meaning.

When the woman sat down, they turned to me, asked me to read a poem of mine. After watching her and understanding what life was, none of my practiced planned poetry survived on pages.

No. I watch from the side, wondering why poetry is segregation and classification in the places and ways it sounds.

poems

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