September 10th, 2009


Unexpected Poetic Power

I took my sketchbook to a poetry contest tonight,
thinking it would give me something to do with my hands and my eyes
while my ears listened to poetic versifying and
my spirit strove to stay distracted
from the stresses of life and work and what-not

I should have feared not

for unbeknownst to me my recent arrival in this vicinity
would lead to a voluntary ascendancy, a temporary assignment
that I would stand in judgment on the very contest I meant to merely observe
I would serve, at the selection of the man hosting the

word wrestling contest

I had no objection


it did seem odd

that those who by our ignorance of the performers,
by our lack of contacts in the context answered the question of
do you know any of the above with a no were all white and therefore
for the night, a panel of three judges pale as anything
passed out numbers to be racked up, rung up, added in rounds,
compounding to the final question

of who won the contest

everyone thanked us
even or especially the poets who were eliminated early (one because his poem ran too long)
and it was a lesson for me, listening to their song, trying to
evenhandedly use what had been handed to me, one third of the power of poetry

for the night

The strength actually flowed through the poets before us
and the echoing chorus of the rest of the audience as they voiced their reaction
to the numerical rank of each judge's attraction, (or their boos if they stank)
in this first annual poetic event hosted by the African American Cultural Works group, just one night in a festival of creative talent that started with a gospel fest last night and goes on with blues and jazz and reggae for the next three days

I am in a daze

That was intense, and hard, and my head hurts

the thrumming rhythm of the peak performances exits my mind and I sink toward sleep,
worn out

by unexpected poetic power.

(hear a spoken version instead...)