This room, filled with chapbooks,
full-lengths, journals, analyses,
a million hours of concentrated work—
this room listens—
each tap, stroke, page turn.
The poets surrounding me do not.
He writes about lost opportunities,
she, damaged relationships,
this one, how the media filters and fragments him,
that one, daily grocery lists and candy wrappers.
I write of the here and now.
If I bang the keyboard,
they would startle—
might they then think of poetry’s roots,
a throat’s voice, sounded words,
hands moving for eyes and not paper,
how spoken volume interacts with pacing and rhythm?
How can you (yes, you) shout a rage-poem on stage,
yet casually write that same performance
as if pouring cream into coffee?
This is my offer.
Think about the unexpressed sounds in this room,
listening as the room itself does,
in exchange for this poem.
Apparently, and disappointingly,
with your casual acceptance of the ‘quiet’,
you have declined my offer.
No deal. Please put down the page.
(This poem was on a coffee table at Poet’s House)