Everyone was having a good time. Enjoying their food and drinks and conversations. Then the millennials walked in. Slouching and staring intently into the universes contained in each others eyes. Ordered only appetizers. Fed each other ranch slathered carrot sticks. And sucked everyone else into their vacuum of self-centeredness.
Words — We have enough words, but have we got enough people willing to listen. To really listen. It’s easy enough to write them, easy enough to put them out there, but are we even listening. I’m trying. I’m really trying to read your words as if they were mine. When you read do you read just to consume more? I do that too. When you read are you rushing? Same. Maybe we should go back to writing on stone tablets so we can realize how precious these words really are. I’m trying, I’m really trying. How many of us read with care? Read someone else’s poem as if it was your own. Everybody’s writing, but who’s listening. If not you, who?
As you sit there watching the homeless man with carpet padding scarfed around his neck draping down to his feet flip through a magazine he dug out of a trash can, leaning against the trash can, legs crossed, you think: at least there’s always hope. . .
When I walk out the door in the morning on my way to work and no one is around, I’m free.
At the idea that someone might be out and about pretenses begin to be formed. Speaking of pretenses; I was at the library the other day checking out nearly a dozen children’s books for my daughter when the librarian uncovered a book my wife must’ve thrown in, Princess Grace or something like that, Grace is black. So too is the librarian. See so we’re good people, right. . . right? On my way to work and I see a dead raccoon on the side of the street, mangled and stiff, teeth bared, brushed to the curb with the piled leaves. And I think what does that have to do with my desire to be in print? We’re putting our kids on display. We always wanted to be on the big screen, now we’re always on the screen. Why do we call it race anyway? It matters, but also, it doesn’t matter. Right? I’m just waiting for someone to tell me it’s going to be OK. I think maybe my daughter saw the book and just loved the picture and wanted it. Her white privilege is showing. ‘Cause now I’m thinking that maybe the librarian is thinking that book is supposed to empower a little black girl, or boy, ’cause boys are princesses too. And now I’m taking that opportunity away from some ethnically diverse young mind, who’ll only have little Red Riding Hood, or Goldilocks to attain to. Fuck my white privilege. It should be spelled priviledge, ’cause I’m thinking about jumping off a ledge. Where do we go from here? She checks the book out anyway, and smiles. I tuck my tail and run.
travelers stand next to 9-5’ers who line the sidewalk, street-side no parking ’til 9 a.m. Music thunders out of the caffè. One couple chats while they wait, everyone else has noses in screens; trying not to be seen; the starlings flutter near the curb. One brave soul, tempted and cautious, hops under the two-person table to steal a crumb. The homeless man, with matted brown ribbons of hair shuffles down the line audaciously looking, or trying to look, the patrons in the eye. From somewhere inside a name is shouted over the music out onto the street, but no one lifts their head. And the homeless man keeps shuffling down the street, empty handed.
I’ve never considered myself to be a conversationalist, in fact I’ve beat myself up for being boring, for having nothing to say at the moment when something obviously needed to be said. Yet here I am writing poems, the written form of conversation.