"Poem For People That Are Understandably Too Busy to Read Poetry"

The excitement is building for the week of my birthday since the Third Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival begins the day after my birthday (B-Day = 22nd, NO Forgetting!). I finally bought a new printer yesterday– I’ve only been putting that task off for weeks. Thankfully, I got a great deal at Office Depot. I felt slightly bad for spending the money; however, it is a much needed purchase, especially since I’m too cheap to go to Kinko’s during the festival, and I do needed to replace the old one so I can finally get back to sending out submissions.

Since the time of the festival is approaching I wanted to share a poem by Stephen Dunn; thankfully and luckily, I am in his workshop.

Poem For People That Are Understandably Too Busy to Read Poetry

Relax. This won’t last long.
Or if it does, or if the lines
make you sleepy or bored,
give in to sleep, turn on
the T.V., deal the cards.
This poem is built to withstand
such things. Its feelings
cannot be hurt. They exist
somewhere in the poet,
and I am far away.
Pick it up anytime. Start it
in the middle if you wish.
It is as approachable as melodrama,
and can offer you violence
if it is violence you like. Look,
there’s a man on a sidewalk;
the way his leg is quivering
he’ll never be the same again.
This is your poem
and I know you’re busy at the office
or the kids are into your last nerve.
Maybe it’s sex you’ve always wanted.
Well, they lie together
like the party’s unbuttoned coats,
slumped on the bed
waiting for drunken arms to move them.
I don’t think you want me to go on;
everyone has his expectations, but this
is a poem for the entire family.
Right now, Budweiser
is dripping from a waterfall,
deodorants are hissing into armpits
of people you resemble,
and the two lovers are dressing now,
saying farewell.
I don’t know what music this poem
can come up with, but clearly
it’s needed. For it’s apparent
they will never see each other again
and we need music for this
because there was never music when he or she
left you standing on the corner.
You see, I want this poem to be nicer
than life. I want you to look at it
when anxiety zigzags your stomach
and the last tranquilizer is gone
and you need someone to tell you
I’ll be here when you want me
like the sound inside a shell.
The poem is saying that to you now.
But don’t give anything for this poem.
It doesn’t expect much. It will never say more
than listening can explain.
Just keep it in your attache case
or in your house. And if you’re not asleep
by now, or bored beyond sense,
the poem wants you to laugh. Laugh at
yourself, laugh at this poem, at all poetry.
Come on:

Good. Now here’s what poetry can do.

Imagine yourself a caterpillar.
There’s an awful shrug and, suddenly,
You’re beautiful for as long as you live.
~ Stephen Dunn

Agnes Scott — Literary Festival

I hate to admit type this….. I am a procrastinator through and through, but if you really know me, well, you already know this. My talent of procrastination is what kept me from entering in last year’s 35th Annual Writers’ Festival Contest sponsored by Agnes Scott College; however, I’m happpy to say I didn’t lose the battle to procrastination this year. I entered in the 36th Annual Festical Contest. College students may enter five poems or no more than ten pages. I entered three poems from a series that I read over the summer at the Subliminal Messages and Subversive Influences at the Fulton County Library; the other two poems are ones I’m quite fond of.

The 36th Annual Festival visiting writing and judge for poetry is Yusef Komunyakaa. Currently, I am reading his book Talking Dirty with the Gods. Talking Dirty to the Gods. Even though I am only about a quarter of the way through the book I don’t see myself be disappointed as I continue. Enjoy this sample from the book:

THE CENTAUR

Shape-changer caught in the middle
Of rehearsal, here between beast
& man, like a young Chiron,
You pretend birthright,

Hoping Atalanta’s arrow
Finds you on a lost path
In bloom. Yes, sometimes,
You can be loony as a drunken

Stunt man in Paradise, a bit
Of Theocritus’s sad metaphysics
In your bones. One half tortures
The other for the romantic songs

Crooned at sunset. Unholy
Need & desire divide the season,
As you eat sugar from a nymph’s palm.
Before she mounts & rides you into a man.
~ Yusef Komunyakaa

The Forgotten

I was looking through my Myspace blog, and I discovered a poem I had forgotten about. Sometimes I go through massive writing phases, and after I don’t remember every single poem that was written— thankfully, I do store them away. I think I want to revisit this poem, edit it, and see what happens.

FEARS

During the day they communicate:
She asks him to pick up the dry cleaning;
he tells her he has a late business lunch.
It’s not like at night when they’re in bed
keeping their thoughts to themselves.

She lies beside him,
knows it’ll be a love-making night
when she feels his hardness;
she doesn’t even get wet.
She wishes he’d take what he wants,
hold her down with one hand
while the other traces her over her clit
finding it’s way inside her, opening,
until he’s ready to shove his member in.
Hell, he could gag and tie her;
it’d only make her dilate more.
But she fears what he’d think.

He lies beside her,
knows it’s a fucking night
because he can’t take the thought
of having to use his shampoo to beat off
in the shower the next morning.
He wishes she’d be more creative:
put him in diaper,
make him “breast feed,”
spank him with her hand
because a time out isn’t punishment enough
for such a bad, bad boy.
He wants her to threaten
to spank him with a ruler.
Hell, five years of missionary,
she could spank him with anything.
But he fears what she’d think.

That’s their story–
predictable like a Golden Girls rerun,
always the same,
like a red light following a yellow.

Pushing Like Parton

Anyone who has any sort of extended amount of time with me realizes I have a slight fascination with Dolly Parton. I guess I should explain that slight fascination means she has a restraining order against me, and a reward for the return of her that I might or might not have in my possession (my lawyer has advised me to tread lightly on the wig stealing/borrowing/admiring subject). Anyway, one my obsessions regarding the talented Parton is that I love when she performs covers. I have such an obsession with this that my friend Chris teases me quite a bit— if I comment on how I enjoy a song he’ll blurt, “Yeah, it’d only be better if Dolly sang it.” I always smile at his sarcasm and reply, “Yeah, she’d probably win a Grammy.” (Which is my hit back at him since Dolly won a Grammy for covering “Shine” and Collective Soul didn’t win anything for performing their song—– and Chris loves Collective Soul.)

The idea for this post came about tonight when I was listening to Dolly sing, “Come to My Window.” You can enjoy it below:

Lambda Literary Foundation has a calls for submissions page, and I was excited to read someone is creating an anthology titled DIVAS ANTHOLOGY: Gay Men on Their Divas. For the longest time I’ve been whining about writing a Dolly poem…. looks like now is the time since the deadline is January 15.

"With Mercy For The Greedy"

Today, Sibille (who happens to be in my top five circle of friends) did a post regarding a quote on BBC radio. This is what the priest had to say, “If God had meant for all people to be Christians he would have made them all Christians, if he had meant us all to be Muslims he would have made us all Muslims. But he didn’t. He had the power to, but didn’t. You have to wonder why.” Love it.

Sibille, also inquired where my journal title originated. In case anyone else has wondered the same, it comes from this:

WITH MERCY FOR THE GREEDY
by Anne Sexton

For my friend, Ruth, who urges me to make an appointment for the Sacrament of Confession

Concerning your letter in which you ask
me to call a priest and in which you ask
me to wear The Cross that you enclose;
your own cross,
your dog-bitten cross,
no larger than a thumb,
small and wooden, no thorns, this rose—

I pray to its shadow,
that gray place
where it lies on your letter … deep, deep.
I detest my sins and I try to believe
in The Cross. I touch its tender hips, its dark jawed face,
its solid neck, its brown sleep.

True. There is
a beautiful Jesus.
He is frozen to his bones like a chunk of beef.
How desperately he wanted to pull his arms in!
How desperately I touch his vertical and horizontal axes!
But I can’t. Need is not quite belief.

All morning long
I have worn
your cross, hung with package string around my throat.
It tapped me lightly as a child’s heart might,
tapping secondhand, softly waiting to be born.
Ruth, I cherish the letter you wrote.

My friend, my friend, I was born
doing reference work in sin, and born
confessing it. This is what poems are:
with mercy
for the greedy,
they are the tongue’s wrangle,
the world’s pottage, the rat’s star.

Lazarus

I’m bored– dishwasher is on, clothes in the washer and dryer…. I should be tackling other cleaning tasks; however, I am looking through ‘the base’ of what I hope to be my first poetry collection. As I look over these poems I think of the ones that were cut– how at one time I enjoyed them, thought they were good stuff; now they are tucked away never to be seen by anyone except me. One of the poems that has remained in ‘the base’ has always been a favorite of mine; however, a majority of my friends have never liked it. The feedback of my friends sort of worried me, but I continued to keep the poem as a favorite. When I had my first feature reading my worries were soothed. After the reading Dr. G told me she really liked the poem. Nothing like a professor’s seal of approval to ease things. Here’s the poem:

I’LL BE LAZARUS

Some women and men want a knight
in shining armor to ride
up on a beautiful white stallion
to save the day.

That’s not for me; let me paint the picture.

I’m a man broken, jaded;
a man who’s romantic within is dead.
He was killed too young,
died that death at least a thousand times.
He was murdered:
hung, drowned, stabbed, burned.
A knight rescues but what is there to rescue
when you’re dead——I need a Jesus.

You be Jesus;
I’ll be Lazarus.
Come to me;
tell me to come and walk forth.
Bring me back to life;
give me another chance to live,
to love again.
Be my Jesus;
I’ll be Lazarus.