Poem to be named when all this is over

Try to pass through a time of change unchanged, you can’t, the seconds, minutes, hours stick to you like hot rubber, vaguely trying to pull you back as you fall forward through days into the weeks ahead. You try to keep some part of you the same, to save it for an uncertain future when normalcy returns, but there never was normalcy, only habits, and some habits no longer work, your brain now more aware of what remains to be done, those things you know you know, those things you don’t know you know, but it’s those things you don’t know you don’t know that can take you from behind, so you learn to walk around like a high school teacher with eyes in the back of their head, keeping alert for a sudden tingle, a feeling that something needs you to quickly turn around and take stock of your options, when a deep breath helps you maintain calm alertness, solve the problem, move on to the next.

From my last writing workshop prior to the lockdown

Stationery Store

Red Bull in the cooler, five-hour drinks on the counter, lottery tickets and cigarettes behind me, Penthouse on the top rack, herbal tea on the corner shelf, ATM near the door, coffee canisters by the pastry bins.

When I was a kid, we called this place Pop’s Candy Store. Pops sold it to me twenty years ago, and I changed the name to Park Street Stationery. I sold Mars bars, baseball cards, Twinkies, Pez dispensers, even pens and paper. I ask myself – when did I become a drug and porn dealer? When did I start running a numbers racket?

I never changed the sign. It still says stationery, candy, cigars. I haven’t sold cigars in fifteen years. No one buys them anymore.

People come in for their fix— coffee to wake up, Red Bull to stay up, lottery tickets to feel hopeful, cigarettes to feel calm, sugar to fill a craving, herbal tea to sleep, porn for immediate use. I know what my regular customers need by looking at their eyes when they’re in the line. That saves me some time.

Last week, I signed with a delivery service. They text me orders and send a guy with a van. Next month, I’ll hire some kid after school to pack boxes. I’ll tell him, keep away from the drugs, the gambling, the porn, don’t feel dirty about the product, don’t think about the customers or their families. Just put the blue gloves on, pack the damn boxes, cash your paycheck, and wash your hands before you go home. There isn’t much room for sympathy in this business.

“Stationery Store” (a persona piece) was first published in Red Wheelbarrow #10 (2017).

Stone Soup Poetry reading

My last post was more than seven months ago. A lot has happened in my writing life since then, including publications, classes, workshops, slam judging, open mics, writing (of course), and twice standing on a street during a festival for three hours with other poets, surrounded by chalk sidewalk drawings and poems, reading poetry to interested passersbys.

I’m on the road now, so this will be a short update, but I’m planning a longer post once I get home.

On July 29th, I was the featured poet at Stone Soup Poetry in Cambridge, MA. I’ll write more about them later, but I had a great time and I was honored to become a part of their very long history.

I read several poems previously posted on this blog, as well as some new work. Most of the time, though, I was in the audience, enjoying a very wide variety of talent.

Each Monday evening’s session is taped, edited, and shown on two different local cable networks, each also simultaneously available on the web. The July 29th session was shown last night (8/21), and should be should be on again Friday 8/23 at 10pm on the Lowell, MA cable network, channel 8 – http://ltc.org/content/ltc-8. It will also hopefully be shown on the Cambridge, MA cable network on the same night (8/23) at 11:59pm, channel 8 – http://www.cctvcambridge.org/.

I say ‘should’ and ‘hopefully’ because the 7/29 session was supposed to be shown two weeks ago but was preempted, and last week’s show was from the 8/5 session.

More later…