Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Rockrose Moon (A Serial Fiction)

Part V
I don’t know why sour smelling people make me think of table manners.

When I walk to the main library like I did yesterday I walk by this Persian restaurant. There are always a fair amount of single guys in there eating continental style. Personally I am a snob about table manners, if a guy eats with his fork in his right hand it is unlikely he’ll be eating out with me again.

Talking about Poetry Downtown the other night got me thinking about the time I went there by myself to see the politically correct, exceedingly nice Naomi Shahib Nye. This was a few years ago when the series was still at the impossibly uncomfortable Wieden+Kennedy.

I got there early picked a primo seat on the big bleachers to the side and started to read and mostly people watch. The whole world of the local traditional poetry “scene” was there. Anyway, some middle aged to oldish woman sits down next to me. Plain. People around started getting all atwitter and I figure, she must be important but who the heck can she be because I know everybody locally.

People are all saying hello and this person starts fundamentally holding court.

Yes you may bow to me now. I haven’t a clue who she is. Just a few minutes before the reading is supposed to start I can’t see a thing because all these other really plain looking middle aged and old looking women who have no idea how to dress want to say hello or ask her breathlessly how she is.

Then, “it” happened.

This woman, looked nice enough I suppose like some school teacher or something asks, excuse me, could she get by me for just a moment, just a second really? I have good manners, I said yes. She sits between me and the important person. Only there is a problem.

There isn’t enough room.

So the bitch, literally sits on my leg so she can be close to this woman. And it wasn’t for a second. It was all the way into the introduction of the featured reader.

It was only after the reading that I found out that the person sitting next to me was Tess Gallagher, “Oh look at me, I may be not be attractive, but I hooked Raymond Carver, Tess Gallagher.

Or as I now call her, Tess Gag Her.

I was thinking I’d been a bit hard on her these last few years so at the library yesterday sitting next to a grown man that smelled like sour milk I looked at her sixth book of poems, “Moon Crossing Bridge” from Greywolf Press.

In one stanza in a poem chosen at random, “Souvenir” she uses the words alabaster, vermillion, azure and black. In one bloody stanza! In her sixth book of poems.

Vermillion! Christian had a long talk with Veehan some while back about how he absolutely cannot use words like vermillion in a poem. In a painting fine, but not a poem, please. When you do that it means you are trying to be poetic as opposed to being poetic.

I’ll give you an example. There are places that are poetic.

I have a photographer friend that works in a church, an old church and today she snuck me up into the bell tower. Oh my God, all dusty with this ancient steep spiral staircase there is a life size silver headed clown in an alcove on the way up. The music director used to take kids up there at Halloween to scare the bejesus out of them. There is just one bell, the oldest in the city made from a civil war cannon. On the first landing with the raw stone and old carved wood there is a broken chair and the rope with which one could ring the bell.

Now that is poetic! I could feel my creative juices getting all riled up just being there. But hey if you want to read… “I thought his moon-life had lifted everything from reach, even roses, those vermillion climbers that were a shout at hope, up and up my haggard trellis…”

My not haggard at all trellis has a guy who smells sweet, looks better and has perfect table manners to hang with tonight.


Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

I love the cynicism and that is so right about the 'trying to be poetic' - it's a bugbear of mine when poets use words like persimmon and aubergine ...I love the bitchiness of this, the fact that the speaker does not suffer fools gladly. Yep - this is great! Keep writing!

3:17 AM  

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