Saturday, April 14, 2007

November And Still Not Cold


My first piece of published writing that wasn't about killing someone was, predictably, in response to having my heart broken. No greater motivation, I suppose, to put words down on the page than not getting what you want. The poem was titled "Dreams of Russia and You" and did not make one whit of sense so I stuck with my explanation of "emotional truth trumping the literal." (You can get away with talking like that when you're nineteen.) I went on the old heartbreak diet, lost the requisite ten pounds to the forces of misery, moped a lot, told myself that this was all good for my writing, and moped some more. Weirdly, looking like a strung-out, half-dead, anxiety-ridden waif did not bring my ex back a running to me. But man, I had a poem published! Such are the compensations.
The only downside was that I was to read my poem at a party for the journal that had published it. Terrified of public speaking, I thought of all the back-out excuses I could use for not reading. But my pride got the better of me -- I'd go and read and show the ex that would be there that I had persevered over him and his evil leaving me for a smarter, more beautiful woman stunt hadn't broken me. The party, in the backyard of a professor's house, turned to the reading -- luckily drinks had been served already. November in Texas, still not cold, I shivered in my black skirt and white sweater that I had combined with a pair of plastic yin/yang earrings. I would dazzle the crowd, I thought, picking out the nicest clothes I had. When I got up with my one piece of paper, I tried to control the shaking while scanning the crowd for my ex. I didn't see him and wouldn't for four years. But I didn't know that then -- in front of my first audience, the night became endless. If I close my eyes, I'm still there, waiting to begin.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"If I set you on fire/ Will you keep me warm?" Sam Phillips
Cocktail Hour
Drinking short story suggestion: "The Whore of Mensa" Woody Allen
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Saturday!

13 comments:

Jerry Lee Lewis said...

Great balls of fire!

D. Imus said...

I'm not really very excited, Jerry.

James Dickey said...

Ooooh, that's good.

Lawrence Pike said...

I saw Allen Ginsberg read his poem "Howl" at Macomb Community College, South Campus. A woman in the crowd shouted out for the police to arrest him. Not exactly what a shout out means nowadays.

Allen Ginsberg said...

America, go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.

K. Couric said...

Officer, arrest that man!

Rodney Dangerfield said...

That's a very nice dress in the photo, Michelle, if you know what I mean.

Corrado "Junior" Soprano said...

I don't read a lot of poetry, but I like singing at family gatherings, and I've been told I have a pretty good voice. I do mostly Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra songs. Of course, since I've been in prison, I don't sing much anymore. In fact, I could die in this detention facility I'm presently in. Then I wouldn't be on the Sopranos anymore. If I do die in here, I'd like to thank you, Michelle, for all your support of the Sopranos. It's been one hell of a run.

the walking man said...

God knows I would have loved to have been there at that first reading of a teen angst filled poem. I'd most likely still be laughing today. But then I would have offered my three step lesson in TWM's cure for mic shyness.

I think I am 100% opposite of the Michelle you describe give me a mic and a paper with my words on them and an audience and that scene approaches nirvana but *sigh* i ain't 19 anymor either.

But it was a good read anyway

peace

Charles Gramlich said...

I really love the last image of this, "waiting to begin." Great use of memory as a theme.

Junior Soprano said...

I got the feds so far up my ass I can taste Brylcreem.

Rush Limberger said...

yo, junior. you wait till hillary gets here. she'll have your ass.

Rush limeberger said...

hey rodney, show some respect.