Poet's Ramble

Poetry can be as simple as a four-line revelation hastily scrawled on the back of your phone bill. Poets ask for trouble if they have anything important to say, and the best ones slog through plenty of it. Poems are the instant coffee in your spoon that you chew on without adding water. I am a poet, and this is my story.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Talking Poetry Swan Song?

So it's Tuesday, September 12, and I'm 59 and a week old, arriving at Trout Lily Cafe in drizzily precip. And into Trout Lily a minute before 1:30. I'd have been there earlier, but I decided to take in downtown scenery while shopping for an empty parking space. And at the last minute, I found one across the street from TL. It cost me only $10.50.
. . . . Into a bustling TL. Manning and Maureen at one table; Crook and confidante at an other. Who'd imagine a bomb was about to drop?
. . . . My first question to Kate: "Did you get the news release out? (I had delivered it to her last Tues in hard copy and disc.)
. . . . ."Haven't had the time," she replies. "I've been working 12-hour days. How is your publicity going? Is anyone coming today?"
. . . . "I ran into Nick Wassmer at the Jackson reception. He said he'd try to make it." I didn't tell her flyers are posted at two more restaurants and that Lincoln Library has distributed flyers to the branches, and I know one's on display on the ground floor at the main branch. "May I distribute the news release?"
. . . . . "Yes. You have until next Tuesday," she says. "If no one comes, that's all for (Talking Poetry)."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B O O M
. . . . I also don't tell her that Sunday afternoon, the substitute teacher line called and offered me two weeks of subbing for special education physical education at Jefferson Middle. Some cultures despise displaying pain and personal dismay in front of strangers. Except when I'm listening to poets reading poems, I am of that culture.
. . . . So it's over to my table and I read the latest Poetry magazine because I am too livid to write poetry. If I tried to write anything I'd probably push the pen through the paper.
. . . . .The parade of life around me touches me bittersweetly. Some polite niceties are exchanged as Mike and Maureen hit the trail.
. . . . . The hour seems to last half the afternoon, but I reap richly from Poetry magazine. When the heart is aflame, the mind seems to focus more smartly wherever it is pointed. When I get my second cup of cofffee, I ask Kate. "Do you know that the Illinois Times calendar deadline is the Friday before the next Thursday and that issue won't be out until a week and two days after your deadline?"
. . . . "If you call them today, you can probably get it into this Thursday's edition."
. . . . I return to my table. A fellow comes over . . . .
. . . . . "Say, Job, is this your office away from home?"
. . . . . "It could be," I say smiling. "Please fortgive me, but I don't remember your name."
. . . . . "I'm Vince Rohn from First United Methodist !"
. . . . "Gosh, I'm sorry Pastor Vince, I didn't recognize you out of your ministereial vestments! Must tell you my friend that I've become a bitter old fart since the FOR SALE sign went up at Fifth at Capitol. I'm really bummed ou8t over that! I expect to remain a bitter old fart for a long time because of that incomprehensible abandonment of downtown!"
. . . . I can't quote what Vince said because I had ceased to focus on a person I recognize as an accessory to a crime. NEVER have I seen such a rich, worthy outreach so blatantly hasten from the encroaching "pioneers." As John Paul Jones fictional poet might have said about this "I have not yet begun to write!"
. . . . . And 2:30 arrives. I stay an extra three minutes in case I'm running a little fast or Kate's clock is running a little slow.
. . . . Outside, the drizzle has abated. There's a $10 overtime parking ticket on my car. Yes, my jpresence was costly for the host: whatever coffee, two tasty tamales and some rice cost. When you figure my cost for being there -- 10 days of certain substitute teaching for takehome pay of about $85 per . . . . $850 . . . . deCLINED so I could be there . . . . . I can live with it, in a manner of speaking. I don't mention that as I exit. I don't mention anything as I depart. In one way, from one perspective, I haven't been therte since I arrived. But I will return next week because I believe in honoring the commitments I make, because I believe in poetry, and because circumstances may improve. You'd never know it to look at my car, but I am a poet with great expectations..


> > > > > and Illinois Times includes the news about Talking poetry in Thursday's edition. The news release talked about Tuesdays, that the next one was slated for September 19. The Times mentioned September 17th, a Sunday. I double-check the news release I rapidly revised after obtaining Kate's permission to do it myself. MY TYPO. In my rush Tuesday afternoon on arriving from Trout Lily, I mis-typed. And the calendar person didn't realize the 17th was Sunday and Tuesday (also stated in the release) was the 19th.

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