Thursday, April 17, 2014

Poem a Day: 17

What Happened to the Audience?
      -- to be read aloud by Samuel L. Jackson and posted to YouTube

We called the poetry reading for a Wednesday night
and invited the entire campus, send a special invitation

to the writers and the English majors, to honorable members
of the literary society, and ordered five pizzas in an act

of cosmic hope, in the spirit of poetic love, but only six or so
poets or so arrived, trailing children, roommates, lugging

laptops crammed with poetry, crumpled sheets of paper
scribbled with it, smart phones filled with its melodic burblings,

blinking with owl-eyed semi-confusion (as if they just
woken from unplanned afternoon naps and didn't quite know

the time, only that they might be late).  Where have all
the poetry lovers hidden themselves? we wondered.

The seats remained conspicuously empty. Not even the building's
100 years worth of ghosts bothered to attend, we suspected --

no doubt out in De Pere celebrating Hump Day in translucent
splendor, troubling stoop shouldered mill workers at the

Midway Bar with vague melancholy and a prosy dissatisfaction
with the status quo.  (Nothing poetic in that.)

So the small collection of poets accepted their abandonment
with a measure of good cheer (they're used to it), sitting

in the building's fantastical chairs, its beautiful cathedral space,
talking of everything but poetry -- high school and popular culture

and embarrassing moments from their not so distant and distant
childhoods, while their would-be listeners wandered the outside

world bereft of poetry, no doubt cold, too, and alienated, perhaps
longing deep down for something ineffable -- some bright image

or clever string of words, some flight of linguistic fancy, to
possibly contain or name this sense of desire, this feeling of

complete incompleteness, or the dizzy feeling of clinging to
a planet that, as ever, rotates calmly on an invisible axis

of indifference, spinning and spinning, day after day,
through the same old space.

April 17 2014

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