When I got home the rain was pounding. It fell with the force of a
wronged lover intent on revenge. Already the backyard looked more
like a Great Lake than a backyard, and the rain kept coming. The water
beating the windows made me think the whole house was going
through a car wash. This was kamikaze rain, Geronimo rain. This was
the rain that lifted Noah’s ark. “I’m going to write a song about this
rain,” I said. “You’re going to write what?” Maggie said. “A song. This
rain should be immortalized. Poems and plays and reenactments will
follow, but first comes my song.” “Dreaming again,” Maggie said.
“You and your dreams.” I decided then and there that no royalties
would ever be in Maggie’s name. I said a prayer to Hank Williams and
put my pen to paper. The verses rushed out like the water from the
roof gushing from the downspout. I slipped into a trance and awoke a
new man. I closed my eyes again and saw my ship coming in. My song
was the winning lottery ticket. My song was a rainmaker. I booked a
flight to Nashville to shop my song. I sat across the desk from a record
executive and handed him a copy. No sooner had he touched it than
thunder rumbled across the ceiling. He started to sound out the words
and rain fell hard, drenching his office, soaking us both. “No doubt
about it,” he shouted, opening his umbrella. “You wrote a rainmaker.”
I mentally blew Maggie a kiss. He handed me the contract that rewrote
my future. I signed it pronto in unwashable ink.
Body And Soul – Coleman Hawkins and his Orchestra;Heyman;Sour;Eyton;Green
Body and Soul
for Charles Simic
Writing a poem
is a saxophonist
“Body and Soul”
at 2:00 a.m.
in a run-down
maybe five tipsy
men, at separate
in their heads
the 607 million
54 thousand 800
and 56th live rendition
of the tune.
No one looks up.
No one notices
when the ceiling
and the stars
light up the joint.
We Workshopped Poems
In our poetry class we workshopped the poems we wrote and spread dread where we longed
for joy. The workshop wrote our poems and we recorded the praise and criticism, mostly the
criticism, the vindictive outbursts and the way we played with our hair. We wrote thank you
notes to our instructor without mentioning the hole in our heart or the tears that soaked our
pillows, the snickering behind his back. The Thursday night workshops were the best. Our hopes
were high. We wanted to be somebody, somebody with a voice and a body. We wanted the
place in the pantheon that drove us to workshop poems. Our place would of needs be small,
smaller than a niche, smaller than a studio, smaller than the backseat of a Volkswagen Beetle.
Next to nothing. But our desire was boundless and would not fade. No amount of “Bud, you just
don’t have it” would shake and bake us. We shared the delusion that the sweep and paradox of
our vision was the winning lottery ticket and someday everybody would know our name. Isn’t
that what writing poems is all about? Accumulating poems that rock, little magazines and
books, the adoration of strangers, a crown of cardboard laurel? What’s not to love. Certainly
not us nor the meager words the workshop wrote, the starving words we left for dead. So much
for the humble beginnings of our Thursday night workshopped poems. The humility was a
tactic, too, a ruse to garner the praise necessary to look yourself in the eye and wink. Think of
the trials you overcame, the gash in your forehead, the workshopped poems you squelched.
The workshop wrote our poetry class a long love letter no one believed. We weren’t born in
a barn yesterday. We suffered before we became poets and fear not.