Last night, I watched a black leather-drenched, badass poet sign her poetry book with red-soaked lips. No need for pens, ink, signature. The poems were enough and her mouth, scrunched at the corners, created a shape never studied in mathematics, but should have been.
Last night, a poet no longer needed the microphone. He pushed his arms away from his body like the ocean rejecting the earth. Like clouds in need of a time-out from the sky. He became a one-act play, feature film, ballad, bounty of images.
Last night, I gathered up the histories climbed inside me like invisible spider webs. A haunt. A congestion of tangles. Threw open memories on a flat stage in the east village in a bar, dark enough to hide my shakes, my roots, my cicatricial forearms.
Last night, a poet read his query letter, screamed out the human tabs of money owed. Walked around with tin can full of coins. Do you want to give or receive? Do you want to give or receive? Do you want to give or receive? Poets scooped fingers together for change, handed out dollars saved up for booze and words. Poems can be made from linked wallets, emptied out, used as floatation devices to sail us into another stanza.
Last night, I dug toes and heels against pavement. Walked briskly from one bar to another for poetry pub crawl hosted by a man who hides poems behind his hypothalamus like cryptic whispers. Screamed HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a stranger celebrating the number of rings in his barking flesh. Screamed POEMS like ripped off warning labels against trees, against trumpet player named Demetrius, against strangers on a break from beer-slugging, against the evening, against myself.
Last night, I felt a part of something. I felt parted by something. I felt like maybe I was something. Felt like personified graffiti: real loud and impressively bold. Felt like a ghost chopping up bloody language with the precision of a top chef. Felt like maybe Poe was out there listening as we gathered by one of his haunts. Felt like maybe even Bukowski was looking down on me, offering me a beer spiked with imagery from the sky.
It is Halloween…or the days before…and humans reconstruct costumes into categories ranging from ghoulish Statue of Liberty to Edgar Alan Ho.
You should have dressed up in a costume tonight.
I am, I said.
Oh…what are you?
What is it like to be a poet in New York City?
Like a stout infantfish, width of a pencil (.33 cm) swimming in the Pacific
Like a unidentified container of leftover supper that could be really delicious and surprisingly filling, but its lack of label is too curious and in turn, becomes neglected, untouched and therefore, moldy.
Like the trailer to a really good movie that everyone wants to see. (The movie not the trailer)
Like a rainbow in the sky after a brutal rainstorm. If noticed, it is exquisitely romantic and unexpectedly inspiring. However, a sky often goes unnoticed and cannot compete with cell phone screens…
Like there is no other place to be. To smooth out crumpled words into a microphone or into someone’s eardrum.
Like telling the truth amidst a lifetime of lying.