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When the poet read Bukowski by the fallen bridge

by Jim Benz

1.

Performers of the open mic
In Minnesota

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

Moment, which they cannot fathom

In the cramped and jittery
Wisecracks
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
Unspoken
With its concrete ruins

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


2.

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

Bukowski

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

And the current
Music
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.


3.

Making cheers and laughter
In a coffeehouse

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

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.


4.

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.

08/08/2007

Author's Note: published in Gutter Eloquence #2

Posted on 08/08/2007
Copyright © 2020 Jim Benz

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Elizabeth Jill on 08/08/07 at 06:22 PM

I don't know how you managed this: bringing me there in some boat made of wood and your canvas sails out-to-sea. Today. This is Today.

Posted by Elizabeth Jill on 08/08/07 at 06:27 PM

Bridges. People becoming bridges to get across —somehow to some other side. Still candles take the form of speechlessness. Today is still yesterday.

Posted by Andrew S Adams on 08/08/07 at 07:47 PM

this is brilliant and excellent. i went down again to see the bridge today. it is strangely sad and beautiful... riveting piece.

Posted by Paul Lastovica on 08/08/07 at 08:46 PM

this is today. who knows what will happen in these hours to come? it only seems predictable...you brought me beside the bridge & river, to the coffehouse - and perhaps by your side as well.

Posted by Elizabeth Jill on 08/09/07 at 06:02 PM

Today is the first day I could actually weep over all this. It's like I wouldn't allow things to be real, I don't know, ...like if I could just put things on "pause", life would rewind to the days before.
Today. Your poem, Jim, holds me as I wail. Thank you.

Posted by Kathleen Wilson on 08/14/07 at 08:28 PM

Intensity of the simultaneous-- the unusual flowing of time and place "seeping" into the exalted everyday of the poets milieu-- all "sodden" "sipping through nightfall, through the fallen"...the more I read this the more I am in the grip of the expressive power of language flow and breakthrough dark riverstream imagery that holds all, this time, these bodies this place in the slippery grip of that "darker moment". I love the "not the coffeehouse..." and we are taken below the fizz-- to the dark swirling depths-- the mix of self-conscious surface and immersion in simultaneous depths --is stunning and effective, gripping heart mind and senses.

Posted by Angela Nuzzo on 08/15/07 at 04:37 AM

Very nice, Jim. Great details & images. I love the ending - life goes on, even when a tragedy makes it seem like the world SHOULD stop for a while. A great ode to life and all that it entails.

Posted by Lauren Singer on 08/16/07 at 03:43 AM

wow if not for content alone this piece was just outstanding. but i noticed as i read it that due to the line breaks and format i couldnt help but read it in my head in the voice of Bukowski. those deep and relevant pauses, the crackling drawl. great stuff. (+fav)

Posted by Laura Doom on 12/30/07 at 12:04 AM

The 'what is not' punctuating the 'what is'. Commenting in retrospect...a poetic perspective, neither elegiac nor eulogistic, allowing the reader freedom of emotional impression - properly deserving of the 'memorable' rating...

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 03/03/11 at 04:28 PM

Great POTD!!! Congrats - well deserved.

Posted by Morgan D Hafele on 03/03/11 at 06:36 PM

damn! congrats on potd! absolutely great piece!

Posted by Linda Fuller on 03/03/11 at 11:09 PM

A worthy POTD indeed - glad to see it as such. I enjoy the interweaving. Congratulations!

Posted by Paul Lastovica on 03/04/11 at 12:06 AM

Nice to this pop up as POTD =)

Posted by Paul Lastovica on 03/04/11 at 12:07 AM

well, how about that... a missing word in my comment.

Posted by Clara Mae Gregory on 03/05/11 at 10:39 PM

I missed this the first time around. It was certainly a deserving work for POTD.I enjoyed reading--thanks!

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