I'LL BE YOUR DEAD MAN FOR THE EVENING
I wanted so much to like it.
I kept my mind open and transparent and walked down those stairs into the ornate club and once the open mike began I felt like I was tied to a Catherine Wheel and made to watch an enormous circle jerk where almost all the poets talked about how they knew each other and the look-how-cool-we-are-ness rolled off the stage like a special-effects fog.
You don't know me that well and vice versa but one time I did you a solid and you did the same for me by telling me something I needed to hear and I remember waving at you, hoping you'd come over and make me feel like I did a good thing by coming all the way out and being supportive and perhaps I was being childish when you didn't because when you're in a room with friends there are so many people wanting your time and friends take precedence over aquaintances and strangers.
I wanted ever so much to stay past the floor show and see the Main Event I drove a few miles to witness but, as I kept spinning on my Catherine Wheel, I started thinking of all the things I hate about poetry-- about how strangers aren't always made to feel welcome and that I'm not sitting at the Cool Table and may never be invited to the Cool Table and getting very tired of entree to the Cool Table being determined by who publishes you, who you're BPF's (Best Poetic Friends) with, whether or not you've won the Go-Kart Prize, whether or not you're Academic enough, whether or not your writing is bloody or merely pomegranate-juicy enough.
Sometimes, when I feel like crying like Disney's Ugly Duckling, I wonder which is worse-- being an outcast by design or by group vote, or being accepted and wondering when the popularity will stop and people turn their attention to others and the key light never shines on you again no matter how supportive you are of others with your money and time plus providing MFA recommendation letters and pullquotes for their latest books.
A few hours ago, I untied myself from the Catherine Wheel and walked back up the stairs and out into the cold night air. Something tells me you didn't care whether or not I was gone becaise there were more than enough people worthy of your time. And that's the way it is.