Friday, October 9, 2009

Poetry Friday - Don't ask dumb questions ...

Don't ask dumb questions, kid: get into bed!
I'll help you with your clothes. The sheets are fresh
as virgin foolscap laid, their blankness spread
to take impressions of the word made flesh.
Hold up! the point we're driving at we'll come
to soon. I know these postures are absurd,
but sometimes artists have to pose, and some
of ours may give rise to the flesh made word.
When words collide, when poets rub together,
they generate between them heat and light:
the clash of symbols, straining self-tied tethers,
the pseudo-war of wills where Might makes Write.
The pen (hee, hee!) is mightier than the sword:
the heart is pierced, but never ever bored.

Though I've never been to a poetry slam, nor much wanted to, I've been to my share of poetry readings. One night in the early 1980s (I think) I went to an open mic reading in the dorm where I work, and listened to a cute boy trying to be raunchy and tough to a girl in his poem. I recognized the manner all too well, but it gave me an idea. That sort of aggressive come-on has never been my style, but I thought it would be fun to turn it around, and put a male on the receiving end, so to speak, of the aggression. I'm not sure I succeeded, because it quickly turned into something else, as you can see; but I think it is fun, and a welcome change from the laments of unrequited love that I and other poets have ground out in excessive numbers.

Anyway, at the next reading, the same cute boy was in the group, and I had this poem with me, ready to share with the world or that small part of it. I didn't say that he'd inspired it, nor did I single him out by eye contact as I read it, but it seemed to me that he squirmed uncomfortably during the reading. (The same way boys reacted when I read this one.) I'd like to think he recognized the manner I was parodying, but it was probably just homophobia. And no, nothing came of it. This poem was prophetic in that regard.