“Monster, This is bob. Tim introduced us, “Bob’s a poet.”
Monster’s hand was huge and greasy. I took it. We shook. “I don’t care if he is a Polock. Polocks are alright with me.” His enthusiasm sprayed a fine mist of chewed tobacco and beer. His face was broad. An untrimmed beard merged into the disheveled mass. Everything was black with Monster, black hair, black beard, black t-shirt. Even his blue jeans were black with motorcycle grease.
“Not Polock-- Poet.” Tim corrected him. Monster looked confused.
“Well. I don’t care if he is a poet. Poet-- Pollock what’s the difference?”
Tim tried to explain it, but there was no explaining it, because I had just published a few poems in the local rag. Now, everybody knew that I did it. Poetry at the back of the Pocatello Rag, right there after a full page ad to enhance your life through chiropractic health, three poems, three bad poems; they were poems about dogs and motorcycles that should have remained buried in my ancient journals. Now, an unemployed roofer was reading poetry to the mechanic from Gerald’s Hog Shop:
wind filled vacant places
erased everything but smell
only molecular reason defines
the thrill. hill crested at a hundred
universe dropped into the dip of cool air
where the low pool pools
liquor on the blossoming wind.
They didn’t really get it. But, who does? So it goes for the unwitting author. It wasn’t like I really wanted that poetry to get published. I had new poems. I had poems about war and love, unemployment and recession, ignorance and artifice. I had just given a poetry reading and really, I was kind of famous if you can be famous in a really small way. That’s where I met her. She said her name was Mary. She had dark hair, freckles and a Mona Lisa smile.
“I put out a weekly newspaper.” she said proudly. She went on to tell me how tough it was being a single mom, working two jobs and still getting the rag out by deadline, “What I really want to do though is to change it, to run fewer ads and get some art in there.” She was enthusiastic about it. I was impressed. Where did she get all that energy? She must be running on Nitro, I figured.
“Want to get a beer?” I offered. We wandered over to Jimmy D’s and talked about all the things we had in common. Of course I didn’t tell her about my fiancé. She didn’t tell me about her boyfriend. I found out about him after the newspaper came out and he found out about me. There was a knock on my door and he wasn’t collecting for the paper. Anyhow, it was just a friendly beer, or so I told him.
“What I am most interested in,” she told me, “is erotica.” the word hung in the air like a mythical landscape. I wanted to go there but I worried about the price of the ticket. Was this real or am I imagining it? Is she some crazy nymphomaniac? Does such a disease actually exist? Is Erotica a genre?
“That’s a coincidence,” I told her. ”I’ve read everything by Henry Miller,” I bragged
“Oh yeah.” she challenged, “ What’s his middle name?”
“Of Course.” she agreed. “It was Val in Tropic of Cancer. Or was that Tropic of Capricorn? Which one came first?
“Cancer was the erotic one,”
“I thought they were all erotic.”
“Only if you consider every one of your senses to be sexual. I mean, The Colossus of Maroussi, was a fricking travelogue.”
“Yeah. Well. I only read the erotic ones,” she admitted.
Jimmy D’s was packed as usual. We tried to find a quiet place but that’s impossible.
“I’d really like to put your poetry in the Rag.” she started up again. We were wedged in between the pool table and a hallway leading down to the bathrooms. We were seated on two bar stools, no bar, no table, no place to lean or put your arms. I rested one arm on the back of her stool. One of her hands fit comfortably between my knees. We were close. She was talking about poetry. The most amazing scent was rising up from her. I leaned in as though to hear better but really, I was just trying to get closer to that smell. What was it? I lay my forehead into the soft skin below her ear. Small rivers, dark ripples, follicular currents swept under the dark cloud of her hair, moving down to the source. I wanted to follow it there, to smell that smell forever for it was truly the most naked thing I have ever experienced. The way my cock popped up in the middle of that crowded bar, I would have to say, it was primal. Had I been Henry Miller, I would have taken her right there, right then. Society be damned. I would have had my end in. Everything else is meaningless. There is only this moment, this life and this life exists only to our senses.
I am not Henry Miller. Henry Miller was not a poet. Poetry is fueled by compassion and empathy. Contemplation, extrapolation, metaphor, these are tools of the poet. A certain lingering is required. It takes time to absorb every situation. Still more time to condense it, to strip away the unnecessary, to focus it, to sharpen it, to hone it into its most essential form. It just takes too long. The moment had passed. Manuel Alverado had arrived and she was no longer talking about poetry
“That sounds great.” she was telling him. ”Your pen name could be, Mango Avocado.
Mango this is Bob,” she introduced us, “Bob is a poet.”