Posted by: Peadar Ban | October 23, 2010

Thoughts While Trying to Decide to Go to A Poetry Reading in Boston Next Week

They read, the poets, singly on the Boston streets
Or in pairs along the paths winding through the parks;
Counterpoint, syncopation, punctuated by
Falling acorns from the ancient oaks,
Pulling down the clouds into their mouths,
Pouring rivers from their tongues,
Playing ball with Homer and Aeschylus
And making music with Piltdown Man
Behind doors down library corridors,
Arresting little children with their pencils
Rubbing out adjectives, nouns and verbs,
Inserting dashes here and there while
Whispering passages in alleys,
Climbing trees to get above it all,
Sitting on a bench, standing on a sea wall,
Pacing nervous back and forth, agitating
Like the column in a machine full of swirling
Laundry, their thoughts and words
Detergent, so they say, for our clogged
Neural synapses, our dusty brains.

Up on a rooftop in the full day’s light
Under a cloudless sky the silhouette
(If I have spelled that correctly)
Of the Chief Reader can be seen
Naked in his intellect and his blank verse
But barely heard above the murmur
Of a million words, spreading rumours of truth
Hints of beauty, sliding similes
Down into the streets onto the heads
Of passersby, piling on each one like
Coal cascading down some chute of images.

While the rest of them, metaphors mixing
Unremarked by critics and professors
Above the heads of little children
Held tightly by shocked and startled parents
Hurrying them past these most dangerous
Of them all, the extemporaneous poets,
On the corners, in the doorways
And standing in the lines at banks,
Super markets, theaters and museums,
Who never know what the next word will bring,
Light or silence, read on like locusts among
Egyptian wheat devouring their audience.
Do not come if you have not taken
Proper precautions against them.
Arm yourself with an old Walkman, an iPod
Or your Blue Tooth, as protection.

Beware, especially, the immigrant poets,
Their sudden tumble of words, their assault
On unfamiliarity, their foreign smiles,
Their strange simplicity of form
Unfolding like a fractal in the soul.


  1. I think you could leave the word “the” out of line four… 😉

    I really like this one, Dad!

    • Thank you, Mouse. I really like you, and I would leave nothing out.

    • I have taken your advice, and appointed you assistant editor in charge of definite articles. Thank you

  2. I also really like this one, Peter, especially the second stanza, and of that especially the lines:
    “But barely heard above the murmur
    Of a million words, spreading rumors of truth”.


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