Who’s Living in Your Poem? Frank’s Letter to the Workshop

Family

Frank Rubino’s letter of invitation and inspiration to the weekly Red Wheelbarrow Poet’s Workshop of December 15

Hi Everybody-

I looked at the batch of poems we talked about last week and noticed a couple that got energy from biographies. I’m being purposeful about the word biographies because it conveys the ‘lifespan’ scope the poems work with. Mark Fogarty layers Mark Twain’s bio, Twain’s daughter, Susy Clemens, and his own life to create a stratified model of identity with a few links between the strata, such as the concept of “empty house”; Susy haunted an empty house, and the poem’s narrator returns to one, linked to the circumstances of his life by parallels in hers: the poem reverses the link, “I was thinking of Susy” to “Susy spawned thoughts of me” by presenting Susy’s facts first. 

Shane Wagner also creates a stratified biography, where the sub-basement is the narrator’s entire past, and the link to it is a feeling of regretful weariness in the present moment. 

It’s important to think about what the links are in these poems, how they’re made. Poetry can make links with proximity, vowel sounds, metrics. In Shane’s, the action of extruding the link like a vector, in a direction, from one layer to another is made by the verb in the first line “ I go back..” 

In computer science there’s a concept of rich linking called the semantic triple. The semantic triple has three parts, the subject, the predicate, and the object. Predicates link subjects to objects : “another child” “dreaming of” “a former me”; “a former me” “exists in” “a different now.” 

I see linked biography poems as graphs, with the biographical layers having connection points. There is an empty house in one biography, and there’s an empty house in the other. There’s a child in the past, and a child in the now.
Another concisely-modeled example of linked, multilayered biography, is Lan Chi’s death-bed Rashomon where the poem’s links are discrete family interactions bound to different family members’ lifelong relationships with the father.

Going back to last week’s essays from Rosanna Warren’s book, Fables of the Self (https://www.amazon.com/Fables-Self-Studies-Lyric-Poetry/dp/0393066134) In her writing on Geoffrey Hill she cites the linguist Emil Benveniste who says that language provides in the first person “I’ a reference to “no fixed or objective notion” Each I “corresponds each time” to “the person who is uttering the present instance of the discourse containing ‘I’” “It has no value except in the instance in which it is produced”
Each time time a poem creates one of those links between biographies, it creates a brand new I.

(It must say something that I keep coming back to issues of constructing the first person self with poetry.)

What links you to another life?

How many other connection points does that life have to yours? Does it connect like a bridge to yet another life?

How permanent are the links? Are they soluble in water (tears, the family pool)? Or can they withstand fire wind and seismic shifts? (Mine are stubborn cats) What happens when biographies become unlinked? Can you think of any other information models that poetry can benefit from?

The Price of Attention: Frank’s Letter to the Workshop

Frank Rubino‘s letter of invitation and inspiration to the weekly Red Wheelbarrow Poets’ Workshop of December 8

Hi Everybody-

I listened to Sam Harris’s podcast Making Sense this week (https://samharris.org/podcasts/226-price-distraction/) The episode, called “The Price Of Distraction” featured neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley whose work in brain plasticity I’m not qualified to judge, but whose conversation with Sam Harris on the mechanisms of attention (in the first part of the podcast) sparked some thoughts about how poems work and what poems are.

What happens when our attention is diverted? And what are the things that can divert our attention? Humans (Us! We!) are driven to explore, like other mobile animals, to find resources. This activity is subject to a dynamic cost-benefit analysis: “I don’t seem to be finding many nuts here; What’s the ratio of the energy required to climb the next tree versus the probability of finding more nuts?” That calculus demands computation cycles from our brain, and maybe more or less depending on the time of day, the temperature, whether we’re REALLY hungry…

Apparently, behaviorists can be predict the rate of tree-switching accurately among certain animals, and given certain conditions.

When we’re writing poems, we’re trying (in general, and I love exceptions) to dial down our reader’s tree-switching with our poetic machines. (I’m terrible, I’ll stop halfway through a poem I am enjoying to scan ahead in the book for a shorter one.) 

A poem is a document of attention. It shows what we’re looking at, what we’re looking for, how we assess the cost of moving on.

I also read a couple of essays from Rosanna Warren’s book, Fables of the Self (https://www.amazon.com/Fables-Self-Studies-Lyric-Poetry/dp/0393066134) In her writing on Geoffrey Hill she cites the linguist Emil Benveniste who says that language provides in the first person “I’ a reference to “no fixed or objective notion” Each I “corresponds each time to “the person who is uttering the present instance of the discourse containing ‘I’” “It has no value except in the instance in which it is produced”

So my thought is that the self is a product of attention, and a poem about the self conjures a brand new I each time it is given attention, and it’s amazing in the sense that each instance of attention is unique.

Do you get distracted when writing? Is the distraction a part of your poem or what you reject from your poem?

Does writing change the nature of your attention?

What does your poem create from the reader’s attention?

Field Notes, Week of 12-1-20

Arthur Russell‘s recap of The Red Wheelbarrow Poets’ Workshop of 
December 1, 2020

Arthur Russell, and sometimes Frank Rubino and others, have been sending the weekly Field Notes to our workshop fans in an email for several years, but only this week we decided to archive them online on our web site. These workshop notes are a treasure trove of poetic knowledge and a way to catalog our work, week to week. We hope you’ll enjoy this new feature.

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Can I just say, it was a great week for RWB. We had an awesome hard-working (and very efficient) workshop on Tuesday, and then an RWB reading on Wednesday with Susanna Rich as the feature and one of the best open mics we’ve ever had: the range of work we heard was arms spread wide.

Of the workshop, I’ll report this:

For a little gem, Moira O brought a poem called “Slice” that, like Sylvia Plath’s “Cut” turned a kitchen accident into poetic gold.  The first line, zeroing in on the shape of the knife’s impression, tells you everything you need to know about how poetry sees things newly:  “It smiles back at me/ with a baby’s toothless grin.”   As usual with a short, good poem, the conversation was intense and joyous.

Also in the realm of short poems, was Susanna Lee’s poem “The Quitter,” about a “last cigarette.”  (On that subject I strongly recommend Italo Svevo’s novel, Confessions of Zeno). In just a few lines, Susanna captured the firmness as well as the contingent nature of any claim to finality when it comes to quitting smoking:  “stubbing out the cigarette/ twisting, twisting it out, into the ashtray// gently dropping, into the pile of ash/ the very last butt, ever// the wry smile.  

Interesting, isn’t it, how the baby’s toothless grin (Moira) and the wry smile of the quitter (Susanna) function so well as images.

Don’s poem, “Sean Connery vs. Watson” had everything a good Zirilli poem needs: a reference to media, a persona to carry the message, and an ironic pose.  This one, a rant in Sean Connery’s voice, riffs on the Jeopardy tv game show (which is where IBM chose to introduce its IA product, “Watson”), as well as a Saturday Night Live sketch involving Sean Connery (who never appeared on Jeopardy), and touches on a theme Don visits regularly: computers vs. humans.  In Don’s poem, the Jeopardy question that breaks Watson’s back is to name the best Bond movie.

(In our workshop, recently we’ve been having the poems read more than once, which is fantastic for giving us all a chance to let the poem sink in before we start tearing it apart, and also to let the poet hear the poem in someone else’s voice, which can be the most important feedback of all.  Don nominated Brendan to read this poem, and Brendan did an outstanding imitation of Sean Connery’s voice, which really brought the poem to life.  Read it in that voice, and you’ll laugh too.)

In an almost alarming way, Don’s poem pairs well with Tom Benediktsson’s called “Trivia, Roman Goddess of Graveyards and Crossroads” which also turns on a point of cinematic greatness: a charge to name “the thirteen films of Preston Sturges.”  Unlike Don’s, written in a Scottish accent, Tom’s poem feature’s his cinematic penchant for macabre.  He creates a graveyard scene that is both Anglo Saxon (hackle) and Roman (greaves) in its feel, with a goddess who speaks like “broken glass in a tin bucket.” She denies the traveler permission to pass unless they can answer about Sturges. 

And since we’re going to the movies, we should talk about Frank Rubino’s excellent poem, “I, Popcorn,” which really has nothing to do with movie trivia.  It concerns itself with being “so small in all this,” ‘this’ being life, and it shows us both his trip to Russia to adopt (‘find’) his daughter, and his father’s volunteer work in a hospice for homeless AIDS sufferers (where he made popcorn for movie nights), and the speaker’s own beginnings as a zygote.  Frank’s strong suit – his go to – is unflinchingly and verbatim at times to depict his quotidian life – “My daughter drops into the sofa …/ chewing her peanut butter/ on ‘Dave’s Powergrain bread with oat kernals,’”  in the belief that the details will anchor his meditations.  By the way, you’ve gotta love getting ‘zygote’ into a poem (with 10 Scrabble points for the ‘z’, 4 for the ‘y’ and 2 for the ‘g’, if you could land that on a triple words score square, you’d have 57 points, and potentially end the game right there.

My own poem, “Cloisters,” as Ray Turco noted, “captures a common moment well” – the moment when a child learns that their parents will one day die.  This early draft needed workshopping and got a lot of help in terms of the diction, the register, and even the title (Jen Poteet shook her head sadly when she said “not so good.”).

Jen’s poem, “Amy Lowell’s Instagram Post” continued her current series of poems about dead poets brought back to life in today’s world.    Don said it evokes Amy Lowell very well and that Instagram is a great connection for Amy Lowell; Tom said Jen’s was better than Amy Lowell (beating up on Amy Lowell is a spectator sport in some countries), Ray T wondered if the poem could connect more to the style of Instagram, and I said the poem doesn’t really connect Amy Lowell to the present except in the title.  Rumor is Jen’s been working on it more since then.

Welcome back to Paul Leibow, who brought Afraid of the Dark Volumes I and 2.  We discussed only Volume 1.  It is similar to some of Paul’s other work that juxtaposes human cruelty to animal behavior as seen on nature shows, and as such functions as a biting indictment of humanity (biting indictments of humanity, am I right?).

“Deathbed Wisdom” by Brendan M, is a lyric that invades the hospital room of a dying woman, whose final memories are depicted in two lines beginning “Once, she’d”, and whose death is depicted indirectly, by reference to the machines that record her vital signs (“The electric impulse of her stutters, fails.”) and a strange, lovely euphemism for her passing (“Her body sighs”).  The group was impressed with its nuance and overall feeling.

Ray Turco brought poem Number 32 in his advancing collection of Italian mostly war heroes , this one called “Pietor Micca” which tells the story of  a soldier in the army of the Duchy of Savor.  There was abundant praise for this poem in the tightness of the narrative and strong line endings, but some suggestions about repetitions of words that didn’t bring new meaning to them, and isn’t that the nut at the heart of repetition in poetry.  Words carry their historical allusions into a poem, where they gather new and expanded meaning peculiar to the scene.  When a poem uses a word over and over, the word needs to do new work, not just in terms of meaning, but also rhetorical or metrical work.

And speaking of repetition in poems, John J Trause’s poem “Incestina” was a sestina that played with one of the scenes from Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.  His six repeating words (as required by the form) were “daughter” “improper” “nymphet” “crossroads” “village” and “Dolores” (Frank liked those), so, even if you didn’t know the scene from the book to which John referred, everyone understood the overall reference.  Don said he enjoyed the quixotic project of the poem since in some sense it’s ridiculous to make a sestina from Lolita, but Tom B made the observation that for all of the obvious and clever resonances, the poem lacked a “narrative line” but simply repeated the same situation.  In his comments at the end of the discussion, JJT pointed out that he had varied the word order of a classical sestina in the last stanza, using the order that Auden, who is generally considered to have revived the use of the sestina in English had used in his (Pasage Moralise?). 

Janet Kolstein is always writing about art, and in “Il Divino” she considers dirt.  The poem starts with a kind of catalog of all the cleaning of ourselves we people do, and this first part ends by referring to our bodies as a “pristine chapel” – which is a glorious rhyme (for Sistine Chapel) that sends her in the direction of Il Divino, one of the nicknames for Michelangelo, the great Italian artist (1475-1564).  And the second stanza of Janet’s poem notes that “there was no time for hygiene” in Michelangelo’s work, neither in his depiction of the biblical characters nor in the “corpses/ he bought for dissection.”  It’s kind of a “why so prissy” poem, but not all the way to an indictment of humanity. 

Barbara Hall brought a lyric poem called “The Birds” (sorry, no copy available), which talked about pain through loss in childbirth, loss of two husbands, a father and brother dying and used the images of birds in an “almost biblical” way (Moira) to capture and make tolerable the pain.

Can’t end these notes without a reference to the amazing open mic at the “Williams Center Virtual Reading for December 2, 2020”   We had Mark F reading his amazing “Lunch at the Titi Hut,” Maria Lisella reading a stunning poem called “My Junk” about an argument she continues to have with her deceased husband about the stuff in their Queens apartment, Davidson Garret’s heart crushing poem going back to the AIDs epidemic called “Death in a Harlem Hospital with Straussian Overtones, December 1, 1996”, Joel Allegretti’s amazing ideogram of a poem called “Meditations in Red”, Susanna Lee’s multiply-rewritten and nuanced “Social Distancing With the Ladies”, and Frank Rubino’s excellent poem about being a young man finding his legs in the New York social scene in the 1970s called “Helena’s). Those are only some of the highlights of a super wonderful reading.  Everything rang true, and there’s no higher praise for a poetry reading than that. 

See you all in black and white!

—Arthur Russell

Williams Readings on Zoom—Susanna Rich—Dec 2

Join us on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 7 p.m. to hear the poet and performer Susanna Rich read from her work. Please come early and wait in the waiting room for the host to let you in.

Susanna Rich is a bilingual Hungarian-American, Fulbright Fellow in Creative Writing, and Collegium Budapest Fellow—with roots in Transylvania and family ties to the vampire known as the Blood Countess, Elizabeth Báthory. Susanna is an Emmy-Award nominee, and the founding producer and principal performer at Wild Nights Productions, LLC. Her repertoire includes the musical Shakespeare’s *itches: The Women v. Will and ashes, ashes: A Poet Responds to the Shoah. She is author of five poetry collections, Beware the House, Television Daddy, The Drive Home, Surfing for Jesus; and, in celebration of the centennial of the 19th Amendment, recognizing the right of United States women to vote, SHOUT! Poetry for Suffrage. Visit Susanna at www.wildnightsproductions.com.

Tune in to listen to poignant poetry and participate in the open mic. NJ’s best and most vibrant reading series is alive and well on Zoom!

Please see instructions below. To avoid issues at the reading, please don’t share the Zoom link on Facebook. We are instructing people who want to attend to DM Claudia, Don, Arthur, or Anton to get the link.

Zoom instructions:
If you’ve never tried Zoom, please download it from zoom.com and get familiar with it. It’s pretty simple, and tons of people use it. If you have the zoom application but haven’t used it in a while, it’s not a bad idea to upgrade it to the latest version.Please note:
1. The meeting has a waiting room. Please come early and wait in the waiting room for the host to let you in.
2. People can’t join before the host. Our host on Wednesday, December 2 will be Frank Rubino.
3. To avoid issues at the reading, please don’t share the Zoom link on Facebook.

When you get into the meeting, everyone will go on mute and the MC will kick off with introductions. Use the Chat button to open the Chat panel. For the open mic sign up, we’ll type our names in the Chat panel of the zoom meeting. We will remind you about it at the break. The MC will call off your name from the chat, and you’ll read your poem.

THE RED WHEELBARROW 13 IS HERE!!

The Red Wheelbarrow # 13. Cover art by Paul Leibow.

A POET A WEEK! The year 2020 is going to be remembered for several things, not least of them how we found beauty, meaning and puzzlement and recorded them here, in our lucky 13th Red Wheelbarrow anthology!

Featured poet Zorida Mohammed joins more than 50 other poets pushing The Red Wheelbarrow in the direction of sanity. With 52 poets published here, our prescription for an antidote to a crazy year is to read a poet a week.Mohammed’s poetry looks back on her Caribbean upbringing and the forces that forged her adult life in America as a poet with an uncommonly keen memory and descriptive gift. In addition, we have published a short story that revisits her relationship with her grandfather in Trinidad.

And, after the feature on Mohammed, our lead poet is Rachel Wagner, whose brilliant “Men Follow Me to My Car in the Dark” will ring true to every woman and should be read by every man. Wagner is followed by R. Bremner, whose poem about the thoughts that flashed through his mind while enduring a stroke is instantly memorable. And that’s just the first three poets!

The 13th edition of our RWB is loaded with great poetry, essays and artwork, including the expressive line drawing doodles of Donald Zirilli and the hopeful cover art by Paul Leibow, “Women’s Future,” underlining the themes of the nearly two dozen women poets published here.

Get ready for some great literary adventures. You’ll find within these pages the vengeful nature of Osage oranges (Susanna Lee), the story of a hunchback right out of New York Gothic (Ken Vennette) and a mini-epic merging the stories of Hiawatha, the Last of the Mohicans, and a modern-day immigrant to New York City (Petraq Risto).

That poem, and the book, ends with Michelangelo’s finger of God pointing at the Statue of Liberty, a grand image to put up against a year filled with disasters. We also add a tribute or two to our retiring founding editor, Jim Klein, who it has been my privilege to succeed. The intelligence and energy of our one-a-week poets show that this anthology has a great future as well as an illustrious past.
—MARK FOGARTY, Editor

To order:
https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/mark-fogarty/the-red-wheelbarrow-13/paperback/product-4jqj8n.html

Type ORDER10 into the discount code box on checkout to get 10% off through September 18!

WCW on Zoom—Gregory Crosby—June 3

You are cordially invited to join us on Wednesday, June 3rd at 7:00 pm for our virtual Williams poetry reading on Zoom. Our featured poet will be Gregory Crosby, a noted Brooklyn poet.

Tune in to listen to his poignant poetry and participate in the open mic. NJ’s best and most vibrant reading series is alive and well on Zoom!

Instructions are given below on how to access our reading on Zoom. Much thanks to Frank Rubino for setting up our virtual reading and making it all possible.

We’ll see you all online on June 3rd at 7 pm. Until then, stay safe and be well.

Best Regards,
Claudia Serea
Frank Rubino
Arthur Russell
Anton Yakovlev
Don Zirilli

Zoom instructions:

If you’ve never tried Zoom, please download it from zoom dot com and get familiar with it. It’s pretty simple, and tons of people use it. If you have the zoom program but haven’t used it in a while, it’s not a bad idea to upgrade it to the latest version.

On Wednesday at 7 PM, when the reading starts, you’ll click the link below. You have to click one button for video and another for audio.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84557203032
Meeting ID: 845 5720 3032

When you get into the meeting, everyone will go on mute and the MC will kick off with introductions.

Use the Chat button to open the Chat panel.

For the open mike sign up, we’ll type our names in the Chat panel of the zoom meeting. I’ll remind you about it at the break. The MC will call off your name from the chat, and you’ll read your poem.

WCW on Zoom—Marisa Frasca—May 6

You are cordially invited to join us on Wednesday, May 6th at 7:00 pm for our first virtual Williams poetry reading on Zoom. Our featured poet will be Marisa Frasca, a very talented and accomplished poet.

Tune in on May 6th to hear Marisa read her passionate and poignant poetry. Participate in the open mic. NJ’s best and most vibrant reading series is alive and well on Zoom!

Instructions are given below on how to access our reading on Zoom.
We’ll see you all online on May 6th at 7 pm. Stay safe and be well.

Best regards,

John Barrale
Frank Rubino
Arthur Russell
Claudia Serea
Anton Yakovlev
Don Zirilli

Zoom instructions:

If you’ve never tried Zoom, please download it from zoom dot com and get familiar with it. It’s pretty simple, and tons of people use it. If you have the zoom program but haven’t used it in a while, it’s not a bad idea to upgrade it to the latest version.

On Wednesday at 7 PM, when the reading starts, you’ll click the link below. You have to click one button for video and another for audio.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86162776397
Meeting ID: 861 6277 6397

When you get into the meeting, everyone will go on mute and the MC will kick off with introductions.

Use the Chat button to open the Chat panel. For the open mike sign up, we’ll type our names in the Chat panel of the zoom meeting. I’ll remind you about it at the break. The MC will call off your name from the chat, and you’ll read your poem.

RWB Virtual Workshop—A Deeper Look

The RWB Poets started to hold online workshops on Zoom in an effort to carry on with our writing in time of pandemics. As a new initiative, we’re proposing that one of us will do a short process piece about a poem we workshopped on Tuesday.  Here is this week’s pick, Tom Benediktsson on “Ghosting.”

On “Ghosting”

“Dust.” Image by dre2uomaha0 from Pixabay.

I learned the term “ghosting” two months ago. Duh…not knowing it was a cliché, it seemed like a vivid metaphor. I thought back about times in my life when I ghosted or got ghosted, and then I remembered that dramatic day.

That’s how the poem started, breaking my rule not to write directly from personal experience. Usually I hide behind a speaker I’ve made up– a character, an alter ego. 

While writing the poem I also began to think about “ghosting” as a metaphor for writing. Writing, it occurred to me, can be a kind of “ghosting,” in the sense not of erasing but of inventing someone. Thus writing as that boy I once was is “ghosting.” A ghost writer, of course, is paid to write in someone else’s voice. Maybe all narrative poetry is ghost writing, except of course we don’t get paid. Maybe in all lyric poetry we invent a ghost of ourselves.  

But enough philosophizing. When I revise the poem I’ll drop the three ghosting definitions, for which all of the above was shorthand, and just tell the story, Tom! 

Hmmmm…. who am I when I tell “Tom” what to do?

Ghosting

I’m seventeen. Sitting in a hospital room,
failing to write a paper about Aristotle’s Ethics.
They wheel in my mother, post hysterectomy.
Her snoring stops when a patient shouts out
that the president has been shot.

My mother mumbles.
“Has the president been shot?”
I telephone my father the recluse.
“The president has been shot.”
“To hell with the president how’s your mother!”

I spend the day tending my mother
and checking on the news. That evening,
back at the university, my girlfriend of three weeks
wants to laugh hysterically, wants to dance,
wants me to be that cancelled homecoming date.

She doesn’t ask about the hospital.
I kiss her good night, realize I don’t really like her.
And so I don’t call her again. Ever.
Aristotle might not approve.

Ghosting: abruptly shutting down a relationship.
Ghosting: summoning the dead.
Ghosting: writing as another person.

It’s 57 years. That girl I hurt is a ghost.
That boy I was is another ghost.
My parents, ghosts. The murdered president.
And me

RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Mar 10, 2020

Janet Kolstein

Conrad Heyer (1749-1856), The Earliest Born Man to be Photographed (in 1852)


He’d heard of the thing
and eyed images born of the contraption.
It wouldn’t take long for his own aged self 
to replicate on the silvered plate.

The man who’d crossed the icy Delaware 
with the Father of Our Country
had orbs reminiscent of the General’s.
His great, beaked nose had grown craggy with years,
his mouth indignant at the loss of teeth.

Maybe, it had been enough to see himself
in the mirror of clear lakes,
or to face his murky reflection on grooming.
He’d looked inward, and knew his character
forged with the gravitas of nationhood.

Changes come to those who live long lives,
some small, some monumental,
some bringing awe and trepidation.
As a farmer, he knew how crops grew from seeds
with the sun and the rain that nurtured his fields,

and that all living things are pitiful
when Death comes calling,
but this new machine, a camera,
miniaturized and memorialized
the very shades of his being,
and, in the beam of his eyes, 
brought forth a new way of seeing
and remembering.

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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets
Twitter – @RWBPoets

RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Mar 3, 2020

Arthur Russell

Fellatio Salon


I used to think Japanese porn,
with its pixilated penises,
wasted the strengths
that this ethnic type 
perfected,
the ultra femme
squeaky female voices 
no other nationality
could do as well.
Pixilating the cocks,
the coitus, as well the uniquely
directional pubic hair 
of the actors, 
was a shame.

But tonight, I grazed
on a long video
about a sex worker
in a fellatio salon
giving head to five 
guys in forty minutes.
There were no booths.
The guys sat on a pair
of wide banquettes,
both facing the same direction,
waiting their turns
while the others
got sucked off
one at a time.

The sex worker gave 
each of them her full, 
coquettish attention 
for seven or eight minutes.
She started them off
with a bright caress 
of the face, but no kissing.
She’d help them 
get their pants and unders off
then enthuse
as though she’d
spontaneously come up
with the most delightful idea:
oral sex.

She’d entered the room
with a miniature
riding-hood basket
stocked with 
individually wrapped
moistened cloth towelettes
dangling from her fingers.
When she struggled 
to tear the wrapping,
her smile twisted a little.
She’d clean the guy’s groin
before, and again —
more gently —
after he’d come.

She opened 
a second towelette
to wipe her lips 
between patrons.   
What I particularly liked
about her blow jobs
was that she’d
bring a guy off 
in three, four 
minutes tops,
then, after lingering
on the display and swallow
of his cum in her mouth,
which did not appeal to me at all,

she would go back 
to sucking him off
while his dick 
was sagging down 
to limp for nearly 
as long as she had 
on the run up, and, 
for at least one guy,
the second round of sucking
had more impact
than the first.
He turned his head aside and shrieked
into his own shoulder.

The last guy
she blew 
had this cool 
bass baritone grunt,
and a short, thick dick
she seemed to like,
and she made 
a Tootsie pop sound 
each time she popped it 
out of her mouth.
She giggled 
in a slightly more 
delighted way for him
than she had for the others.

All the guys 
were super grateful
and kind of happy,
as though they’d 
just gotten 
a free car wash.
No money
changed hands.
They must’ve
paid outside,
like
a movie ticket.
Inside, they faced forward
and accepted her joy.

The big surprise
for me 
was that after 
the first few minutes, 
I didn’t mind
the pixilated dicks at all.
I didn’t 
need to see 
the lip-on-dick contact.
I could follow
the obvious progression
and read 
the implied emotion
in her courtesan face. 

Pixilated
dicks show modesty.
Her spaghetti-strap 
satin top—
which she hardly 
paid attention to 
for the first 3 guys— 
dropped off
one shoulder for the 
fourth guy. Her tit 
came out, 
but it was an accident.
She lifted it back 
with her thumb.

On the last guy, 
the one with the thick dick
and the baritone grunt,
both straps came off.
Her whole torso,
with its lovely clear
skin and her youth 
intact 
came into view.
You might have caught 
an accidental glimpse of her 
as you walked
past your teenage daughter’s
open bedroom door.

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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets
Twitter – @RWBPoets