Minutes (Chicago)

August 3, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard


  • In an auditorian with plush seats, there are enough seats for 500 but only 15 are occupied. What seats are occupied are not concentrated, members of the audience sit scattered and haphazard throughout the room. The room is well lit. On stage middle aged men and women take turns reading poetry. The middle aged women read poems about waking up in the middle of the night feeling lonely. They read poems about how their loneliness persists throughout the course of the ensuing day, using metaphors for wilting flowers, rainy days and brittle, ancient love letters. They tell about how upon the end of their domestic habit their husbands come home and spoon them, easing them once more to sleep. The middle aged men in button up shirts, loafers without socks, in some cases an arrant pony tail, read poems about parties with young women still girls. The girls appear again and again in different masks with different personalities, like flowers in a field the men describe these girls and how they want to fuck them and how once they did fuck them and how fuckable they are. Upon resuming their seats, men and women both pat the thighs of respective spouses.
  • A man leaves his shirt slightly unbuttoned. As he grows progressively more and more drunk, he unbuttons more buttons on his shirt. He frowns in conversation, distracted. The more buttons undone, the more unhappy he becomes. He walks away from a group of four around 11 p.m. “It looks like he’s pushed it to the Critical Level,” a brunette says to a blond. “Whatever do you mean?” the blond says. “You’ve never heard of the Critical Level?” the third pipes up, a petite Asian girl. “That’s when you unbutton your shirt to your belly button.” The blond nods with understanding, “Oh, that. Yes. Well. You know Dean, he just wants everyone to see the tattoo on his heart.” “He has a tattoo?” the Asian girl asks. “Yes. He has his signature tattooed over his heart, very big. He likes people to see it.” The fourth girl, as far as I can tell, never said anything at all.
  • The last middle aged man to read in the auditorium did not tell about girls at all, but read a poem about a robbery. He did not read from the page. He did not boast any rhyme. Rather, his poem had the affect of a story. He had memorized his work and he recited it perfectly. He told a story about the dark night of November when, after leaving a school building in Cabrini Green, he was mugged by penis. His acoster threatened to pee on him if the poet didn’t give up his wallet, his watch and his shoes. The poet escaped by running.

One Response to “Minutes (Chicago)”

  1. okay, the last ‘reader’ made waiting through all the rest worth it. Cabrini Green indeed. Wondering if the running poet had other expectations at that open reading..all for the refreshing energy of slam poetry nights where the poets are not caught in loops of their stagnated sexual fantasies.–loafers indeed..

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