Miguel Seco walked into Café Cervantes
and slapped a fat coin on the mahogany bar.
Staring each patron in the eye, he announced,
“This gold goes to the one whose poem pleases me most.”
A hush fell as we all looked around.
A young woman rose.
She told of bitter-sweet adolescent love lost.
With kindness in his eyes,
Miguel shook his head.
The newcomer confidently quoted a trite ditty.
He beat hasty retreat
as if Miguel’s look could kill.
The town fool belched a limerick that won only a wan smile.
After some silence,
an old man stood straight and
spoke of youth as a gift
unappreciated until gone forever.
We stared into our cups, some sobbing.
Tossing the coin to the old man,
Miguel said, “Otre vez, por favor. Otre vez, Señor.”
[Café Cervantes is on the plaza in Poetica. It’s always open mike and most hours are happy.]
He checked his pocket for change
and pulled out a poem.
To his credit, he valued words
more than money.
The cashier smiled and asked,
Do you want a receipt?
She scribbled a response.
In this economy,
words are coins but
it’s how you arrange them
that adds value,
enriching poets and
– – – – –
[written for Poem in Your Pocket Day, 4/18/2013]
At Poetica Autowerks, we know
when you have miles to go
nothing gets you there
as rhythmically as a Frost.
While the Whitman leaves
little to desire,
kick the tire
of the new Emerson —
Or maybe some lesser poet
can get you there
if you don’t care
where you go
or how slow. mjh
In honor of all the unknown poets out there, unlisted at poetry.org, unpublished except on the back of envelopes. Write on! The only thing worse than unread is unwritten. Happy Poetry Month to all. peace, mjh
Listen to some lesser poet
My Virtual Chapbook (table of contents)
Here at the Café Poetica, where the wireless is ethereal, the server sets down a small plate with a little morsel I pop into my mouth. These appetizers are almost always "good enough." In the worst cases, they’re gone before I think about spitting them out. In the best cases, I ask, "May I have some more, please?"
Next up: a large plate. This is no empanada: it’s a calzone. I take a bite as Walt Whitman looks at me from the pass-thru, smiling expectantly, wiping his hands on an apron. I stall, "h-h-hot." A few bites in, I’m enjoying this. Before long, I’m stuffed and the plate is still half full. No matter how good this dish is, it’s more than I want at one sitting. And if it’s an off day, I wouldn’t give the leftovers to my dog.
My metaphor is as tart as a lemon (and my similes juicy). You take my point and yet I go on and on, testing your resolve. Let me be brief: be brief. I do not offer advice, especially to poets, whom I have nothing to teach. I’ll just say what I like: a tasty morsel. If I can’t stop my eye from wandering ahead — just how long is this? — I probably won’t get to the end. (Haven’t you already scanned ahead? Would your patience increase if these lines didn’t reach the edge of the page?) There’s a difference between rhetoric and poetry. Get a blog. Keep a journal. Pour your heart out in detail — that could produce great writing and surely produces cheap therapy. But if you have 10 things to say or 10 ways to say one thing, consider which is "best" (don’t ask me) or write 10 poems to figure it out.
That said, please yourself first. If you also please someone else, that’s gravy. Not that everything is better with gravy.
Raven’s Rule: If your poem is longer than The Raven, it should be better. Good luck with that.
There was an accident today
on the road to Poetica.
A truck tipped over
on the road most taken
spilling thousands of poems.
Some handwritten on loose leaf.
Some neatly typed.
Traffic was tied up for hours
as people stood in the road reading
laughing and crying
and sharing their favorites.
O, the humanity. mjh
Listen to Seek Alternate Route
My Virtual Chapbook (table of contents)
I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting one of my poems each day. I got off to a late start. As of 5/1/11, I posted 4×7 poems, each with a reading (sound file). You can rate any or all and comment on each here or on Facebook.
- Unhinged Mon 04/04/11 at 11:47 am
- Wind Makes Crazy Tue 04/05/11 at 9:47 pm
- Whispering, “Rain!” Wed 04/06/11 at 7:47 pm
- Graze Thu 04/07/11 at 7:47 pm
- Cold Lang Syne Fri 04/08/11 at 11:47 pm
- Merri! Sat 04/09/11 at 10:47 pm
- Blush Sun 04/10/11 at 10:47 pm
- Sharp Mon 04/11/11
- Going Home Tue 04/12/11 at 10:47 pm
- Choke Wed 04/13/11 at 1:47 pm
- some lesser poet Thu 04/14/11 at 10:47 pm
- bask Fri 04/15/11 at 10:47 pm
- tuck Sat 04/16/11 at 12:00 pm
- flea Sun 04/17/11 at 7:47 am
- Dickey Mon 04/18/11 at 5:19 am
- The Heaven of Animals Tue 04/19/11 at 2:47 pm
- The Bright Side Wed 04/20/11 at 9:47 am
- Slumber Thu 04/21/11 at 4:21 am
- waiting for the tide Fri 04/22/11 at 10:47 am
- Relentless Sat 04/23/11 at 11:47 am
- Icarus Sun 04/24/11 at 12:00 pm
- at this very moment Mon 04/25/11 at 7:47 am
- 101° Tue 04/26/11 at 1:01 am
- the cure Wed 04/27/11 at 12:47 am
- up in the middle of the night Thu 04/28/11 at 6:00 am
- Songdogs Fri 04/29/11 at 11:47 am
- Seek Alternate Route Sat 04/30/11 at 9:47 am
- this simple truth Sun 05/01/11 at 1:13 am
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