Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Rough Draft

After reading at fellow blogger Dick's site and Voice Alpha, a blog dedicated to the discussion of reading poetry aloud for an audience…

At the Poetry Reading

The lights flicker a warning to the audience.
Shuffling feet and shifting bodies settle.
Anticipation rises like smoke.

First up is Ian whose empty hands
are jammed in his pockets
like the damned up words in his mouth.

They spill together; his fists pound
the air, his words beat like fists,
pummeling, pulsating, until the

air in the room is purpled like a bruise.
Up and up his rising voice carries us,
setting us down in a different place where

the sudden silence is deafening.

Duncan makes his way to the stage
through the remnants of applause,
papers trembling in his trembling hands.

We lean forward as one, waiting
Duncan reads words like they are made
of feathers and music. When he is finished

the silence is a balm, a healing,
his honeyed words a blessing. His eyes
lift from the papers in his stilled hands

and he smiles.

Moira has a voice like stones dropping.
One after another her words fall. It hurts
to hear them.

Jean’s verse is worse.
Her rhyming and timing
are ghastly and slightly askew.

You wonder who taught her
to verbally slaughter
her words and then foist them on you.

Kevin never lifts his eyes from the page.

The last performer, Pete, brings a book
of his own verse. He holds it open in his
workman’s hands.

He does not read; he speaks, barely glancing
at the page. His eyes gather us in, 
include us in the story.

He becomes his poem, 
becomes the man he writes about,
becomes the passion and the sorrow

and the redemption at the end. 


Brian Miller said...

nice. i love hearing poetry spoken...will check out this friend...

steven said...

wow! i admire the brief but rich depictions of the characters of people you've achieved here pauline. steven

June said...

I can see and hear each of those people. Thank you.

Anne said...

Oh, yes! Wonderfully realized experience.

Anonymous said...

Bags of atmosphere here, Pauline. And haven't we all been at poetry readings like that?