The Theater Queue You are not kidding about the tiny crowd at the peep show; they queue rather quietly, as though awaiting Casablanca; they smoke rather idly, as though contemplating Michelangelo; they talk somewhat indifferently, as though reviewing 4.33; they watch the asphalt parade and chuckle at wind-chilled goose steps; until the doors sneak open and the shows begin, and they shed their overcoats exposing their secret treaties. But they still await Casablanca; they yet contemplate Michelangelo; they still cherish 4.33; they'll march in the asphalt parade; but they hate their secret treaties even as they ejaculate. You can imagine, then, what the dancers believe when the shows are over and they, too, reassume their overcoats.
Jeff Kallman's Questions:
Should I have omitted the references to Casablanca and John Cage's notorious 4.33, and stay simply with Michelangelo? If so, should I have suggested a different master artist? I have had others go 50/50 on that; I appreciate other feedback as well.
I Am Not I. I am not a mountain climber, but I slink up one's odd sides and waterfalls, occasionally. I am not a tree dweller, though I cherish one's company and listen to its rustle in the brawling winds. I am not a ground hog -- I don't predict weather; I don't give a damn which way wind blows, as long as it blows out the webs while drying my brain. And I am not a water snake, though I share its bubbles and I swim in its ripples to falls showers to cleanse. II. I am not a leader of men, though once in awhile they listen to my consonants and passions. I am not a follower of men, thought they tell me more often than I care to think how not to fly. I am not a toad, although I have been kissed some fifty thousand times, and awaken a mere man, still. And I am not a god, though one's power might be useful if just to bury it where the false sailor lay a season beside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. III. I am not a captain of industry, although I eat silicon chips and bite sound for the pleasure of improvisation. I am not a steward of the land, though I love it as a black sheep brother, lamenting its betrayals and condemning its traitors, as they step from furtive bedrooms. I am not a hyena, though I laugh at myself when the joke's on me in the morning as I shave. And I am not Montaigne's ghost; Robert Johnson's heir; or, the Baal Shem Tov, who expected to rise, as Elijah, aboard a flaming chariot, until his wife died, breaking him in half. IV. Nor am I the fellow who left the lions to Daniel in blissful ignorance. Nor am I the fellow whose footprints on the water apocalyptics scratch into IRT telephone booths. Nor am I the vampire who invented network television for vengeance. Nor am I the vestibule preacher in his Port Authority sandwich board waving Tropic of Cancer in a jacket of the Psalms in travelers' windburnt faces. Nor am I the muse who pulled the trigger on Louis Armstrong's gun.
Jeff Kallman's Questions:
1) My intention was to communicate one man's sense of his own reality; which is to say, one man's knowledge that he is nothing more than his own self. Are there portions wherein this is expressed in a way which might cause a reader to mistake it for a self-putdown? Again, I have had others suggest, for example, the line about the joke on me when I shave in the morning was precisely putting myself down, when I refer only to how puffed I tend to look when I first awaken and nothing more. What do you think?
2) This is a well-trimmed down version of this poem. Could I trim even further without cutting the essences away?