a poem by Jim Benz


When the poet read Bukowski
by the fallen bridge


Performers of the open mike
In Minnesota

Sit on chairs
And stools in the crowded room
Of their coming

Moment, which they cannot fathom

In the cramped and jittery
Of a coffeehouse, like a bottle

Of charged words
Or water
Unfazed, unassimilated, not

The coffeehouse
But the water swirling

Mixed with mud
From the river bottom
Holding bodies

They walked with

And neglected, the moment
Wrapped in distractive

Chatter, the darker moment loudly
With its concrete ruins

And the pre-examined names, fallen
Anti-stanzas of the dead.


Read in lieu of poems writ
By the poet on the platform--


Read by not-bukowski, another
Voice, a different moment, has a wink
Of wet disaster, symphonic loves

And the current
Of a river sipping through

The nightfall, through the fallen, both
Waterlogged and sober
In a cloud of momentary

Words and mud, pounded
Through a P.A.--more impressive

Than expected
To find our life in words, to emote

And gesticulate.


Making cheers and laughter
In a coffeehouse

Two blocks from the shattered
Remnant, three blocks
From the river flowing
Through a sunken

Seeps amid the mud
And concrete, through the tangled
Rebar staring snakelike
At the broken
Margins. It was a common monster

Of construction, the nation's
Ode to commerce.


Boats on the river
And the sodden words
Of poets, both

On a podium in the heat
Of summer

That dampens like a blanket
On a stretcher. We ignore the dark
Waters, the helicopter

Blades and the faded
Wail of sirens

That held us
In a clutch of dropping
Jaws and consternation
Only yesterday. This is today.

© Jim Benz

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