Sunday, September 15, 2019

Overread at Booth 2: Cookout, Thunder

Cookout, Thunder


One of the things I love most about humanity
Is that every single one of us is an individual:
Full of individual ideas.

One of the things I most detest about humanity
Is that every single one of us has a contradictory opinion
To every single thing someone else says.

Overheard at work:
“Houston is the worst place to live if you have allergies.”
“No it’s not it’s Austin.”

To the reader of this poem:  you in your mind are
Right now contradicting this conversation:
- Insert your own city here -
You are inserting your own city here.
Or not.
Or someone else's city.

Do not tell me what city is the best or worst for allergies.
And do not agree with me.

When every single one of us is an individual,
Not one of us is.

And no ...

we are not


The muses of poetry these days are screaming in frustration.
They pound against the battered walls of their stone towers.
They want to let down their hair, but their hair has been shorn.

The poets have ignored the muses of poetry for decades now/
Finding inspiration in themselves – they have made their own
Imaginations their vain muses, and it shows.

The ubiquitous singularity - the indulgence of the “I” –
The frankly disgusting revelry within the exaltation of the self.
The idol on your shelf is a monogrammed mirror.

The muses of poetry used to sing of quaint villages,
Bucolic gardens, of the moon and the starlit skies,
Of the curve of a lover’s breast and the tilt of the wind.

The muses of poetry used to herald heroes of the high seas,
The stalwart wisdom of the farmer and the tradesman,
The infinity reflected in a child’s eyes.

The muses of poetry used to find eternity in a rose petal,
Bittersweet tragedy in the fading light of afternoon,
The tides of time in the gentle sway of a weeping willow.

Now, their voices are fading.  They have been locked away for
So long they are hoarse from screaming and never being heard.
They cannot be heard over the voices of the poets, the god of the “I”


Suegra walking with the new friend
Twice around the lake.


Daughter in college dorm,
Says she felt lonely
So she picked up a kitten from a litter from a girl
giving them away from a cardboard box
out of the back of her car
parked on the beach.

Mother called, daughter tells her.
Mother asks, "Oh no, mija! They are going to
charge us more for your rent!"

"No they won't, mami," daughter assures her.

Daughter knows that the House Monitor will
never tell ...

because she's sleeping with him.


Daughter walks with her new kitten along the beach
looking out over Corpus Christi bay.

Some kids are having a cookout.

In the Gulf, comes rolling thunder.


Suegra walks around the lake with her new friend,
Man-made lake built in the middle of the planned community.
What used to be rice fields that stretched across three counties.

There is a family, having a cookout near the inlet with the
swimming pool for residents.

Some ducks waddle idly by.

A turtle plops into the water as the two old women walk by.

In the distance, the clouds grow a dark purple, like a bruise
under tissuepaper skin.


In my backyard, on the small grill,
I am cooking steaks.

While I am cooking steaks, I am thinking about the incessant poetry
filled with the cloying "I"


I am thinking of dead muses, long dead muses,
muses who will never hear the rolling thunder

fading into the distance.

started 2015-0902
found and completed 2019-0915

[NOTE: "Cookout, Thunder" is a play on the name "Picnic, Lightning" a collection of poems by Billy Collins in 1998.  Well worth reading.  As I recall, I had originally planned a series of poems to be responses to the poems in that collection, and as you can see by sections 1  and 2, it continues with my meditations on the theme that I have noticed recently in contemporary poets and in our culture in general: this annoying hyper-focus on the "self."  However, as with most of my pieces, this was left unfinished and forgotten until today, when I fleshed out the parts about my daughter and mi suegra.  

[While I did not name it in the poem, the location for the lake and home cookout is Cinco Hill.

[So, at least it's done ... as done as it's probably going to be.   I'd suggest reading Billy Collins: he's a far better poet and you will probably find his work much more enjoyable.

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