Friday, May 15, 2009

I'm Still Standin (yeah yeah yeah)

What do I think I’m doing,
staring at a computer screen late at night
watching Elton John cavorting by the sea
with men dressed in rainbow body paint and loin cloths?
This is what it has come to.
This is how I find my inspiration
when it has been set down, casually, on the street outside a taco shop.

You’re not a
real poet, she said.
You haven’t attended a poetry workshop at a Seven Sisters school,
or been published recently in a prestigious literary journal.
You haven’t won a Slam or even dared enter one.
You are just like me, she said.

I’ll admit it stung.
My inner sixteen year old,
clutching her pencil,
writing about spiders and death
and the twisted way sex is represented in culture,
buckled her knees and sucked in her breath.

But-- I –will—still—write—a—poem.
I will find my poem inside Elton’s jaunty cap.
His cane comes flying out of the sky
to land in his hand like the wand of a b-movie wizard.
Fawning dancers with their Fosse-for-dummies choreography
jut their hips and snap their wrists;
take synchronized smooch sessions under beach umbrellas;
float their balletic bodies through each others arms across the sand.
How could I have missed this splendor all my life?

I used to be serious.
Loved songs about the apocalypse.
Attended the right protests.
Read the New York Times
but often skipped the arts section
unless there was a review of End Game or Homecoming,
some play about life in a dustbin
or the inherent violence underlying all human exchange.

Now my protests are in the form of ecstatic dances
and peach trees grown with children out of garbage dumps.
I wear pumpkin socks and stretch in frog pajamas.
I read cartoons when the newspaper words swirl and blur.
Swine flu rhymes with Xanadu.
Strategic strike with baby dyke.
Missile defense with swingin gents.
I say things like thank my lucky stars, as I do thank them,
for beaming Sir Elton,
sauntering in a white suit and boater on the Promenade des Anglais,
into my computer when I needed him.
And I don’t care,
not really,
whether I'm a real poet or not.

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