In The Poet's Tent at The Book Faire
adjusted the mic,
sipped from the bottle of water
and told me all about the poem you are about to read
which you wrote while living in Madrid
riding the Metro
looking over your shoulder
jumping at the sound of a backfired car -
Now that you’ve told me all this
and how important it all is
how this poem took on new meaning after 9/11
how at the end of the day you wrote this poem
you went home to lay your head in your lover’s lap
- a lap of safety
in uncertain times
a lap of precision and respite.
Yes, now that you have told me all that
as a preface to your poem
I have no need to hear your poem
which I was interested in when I heard the title,
the simple title “Madrid”
as I am a sucker for poems titled after foriegn cities.
When I do hear your poem
(for I am a polite member of the audience and even though
I am bored now
and my stomach is imagining what the sugar-fried doughnuts on-a-stick
might taste like - I did see a doughnut stand at the far end of the book stalls -
and the sun beckons me from outside the poet's tent at the book fair)
I am a polite member of the audience
sitting in the front row and will not interrupt your moment to leave.
No longer interested in your words
(which several moments ago I am compelled to remind you
I thought most assuredly I would be interested in)
I stare at the huge redwood tree outside the tent
in the center of the square
noticing the Christmas lights still nestled in its limbs even though it is September.
I hear the low murmur of the crowd out in the square
as it peruses the book stalls
sounding almost like a cocktail party
except for the notes of ice clinking in glasses
which are absent with nothing to stand in their stead
and lead me to wish I had a drink in my hand.
And as you read
the heavily weighted, meaningful, ponderous
words in your poem
I scribble all these thoughts down
across the names of featured authors in the program
and in the small white spaces between lines
for I forgot to bring a pad of paper
and none of the booksellers had a blank book to sell.
The above is a rough draft poem in need of workshopping - I am most unpleased with the line breaks and worried there is too much clutter in the poem. I wonder too if it needs to be reshaped into a prose poem. Constructive criticism welcome.