Meant to be a "calling it as I saw it" piece of looking back.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ORANGE COUNTY POETRY
Bachelors and spinsters
working at paycheck-to-paycheck jobs
during the day
go home, change their clothes
and go out into the spoken-word night
as either Zeus and Hera
or King Herod and Salome.
I'll let you decide which.
In a movie called SEMI-TOUGH,
a minor character had this line of dialogue:
INTELLECTUALS ARE THE JOCKS OF THE MIND.
I can remember hearing about those acclaimed muscleminds
who kicked sand in the faces of puny poets:
YOU'RE NOT NEARLY GOOD ENOUGH FOR A FEATURE!
Some of them quietly bandaged their wounded egos
and later became the literary equivalents of
Charles Atlas and Cory Everson.
Others gave up
and just came down to the water's edge
to stare at the day's latest
I was at a coffeehouse
run by a saber-toothed tiger
when I saw this:
a hapless poetry host
(who just wanted so so much to belong)
was run over by a more acclaimed poet
who graced the open-mike
for what seemed like ten minutes past eternity.
Since the poetry host
wanted so so so much to belong,
he swallowed his pride and discomfort
and let the esteemed poet
off with a mild caution.
Suffice to say
the esteemed poet
finished his poetry
at his own convenience--
not that of the host.
We posed with plastic penguins.
We read from the stages of punk/rockabilly clubs.
We looked for positive writeups about ourselves
in OC WEEKLY.
We even wore bathing suits
for fund-raising calendars.
And we took comfort in our certainty
that we were better, faster, stronger
and far more literate
as poets and as people
than those amateur poseurs from Los Angeles.
For we were forged in the crucible
of being laughed at and dismissed
during our day jobs
by good Orange County Republicans
who keep their Bush/Cheney bumperstickers
forever affixed to their oversized SUVs and trucks-on-steroids.