Monday, November 10, 2008

Assignment from last Monday

I did my assignment this week, Miss Stacey! Aren't you proud of me?

The haunted pinball machine at Larry's went off while the featured reader was reading last week, so S. gave us the assignment of writing on the dangers of poetry in a bar. I took a very literal approach, but couldn't think of anything better.

Hauntings, Stalkings, and Stained Pages (or The Dangers of Reading Poetry in a Bar)

There are of course the obvious
risks of drunkenness - slurred
words, bungled lines, cheap wine
spilled on only drafts of poems
that seem brilliant in the dimness.
And there are surprises like the dirty glass
light fixture crashing to the ground
with no one touching it, the door
opening to let in a roar of traffic
and non-poetic voices just at the moment
when your voice has dropped
to add drama or emotion
to the climax of a poem. And you risk
wandering attention in the audience,
scribbled notes, whispered conversations,
the clink of glasses, the rattle of ice,
or you risk too much attention,
the fans who will corner you
after the reading, not let you leave,
tell you how much they love
your poems, ask you to read theirs –
they always rhyme or contain the word
“fuck” or both. Oh, but the benefits
far outweigh the dangers – poetry
is not meant for the classroom, so neat
and fluorescently lit with desks in rows
and windows that won’t open. It is meant
for the messiness of the world, the perfect
buzz while reading, the ability to laugh
at the interruptions, talk to the ghost
who knocked the light down, ask him
if that was his version of applause.

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