Daily Archives: 13 November 2014

Brooklyn Yawp, November poem No 4

Last night – 10 November here – I took the Subway to Brooklyn for an event that had caught my eye in Time Out New York: the Brooklyn Poets Yawp. (For the benefit of those who know even less about poetry than I do, Walt Whitman referred to his poetry as his ‘barbaric yawp’.)

The first hour of the Yawp is a poetry workshop led by Jason Koo, poet and poetry teacher who must be doing it for love because he only charges $5 at the door and various categories aren’t asked to pay at all. The second hour is an open mic.

Typically I piked on the open mic, but I stayed for the whole thing and had a great time.

In the workshop Jason invited us to try our hands at seduction poems. We read poems by Marvell, Donne and two modern ports, listened to a number of versions of ‘My Funny Valentine’ and scribbled for 15 minutes. Even though what I wrote wasn’t a sonnet, and believe it or not my November sonnets generally take a lot longer than 15 minutes to write, I was quite pleased with my seduction poem and now will inflict it on you.

But first, I ought to acknowledge how much I enjoyed the open mic hour, not least for the family feeling among the 30 or so people there and Jason’s smooth, genial, kind but not too kind MCing. Not necessarily the best poem but the most daring was a verbatim reading of the text of a Viagra ad currently showing on New York TV.

No 4: Seduction Poem
When did it happen,
this line on your face,
This deep straight line down your cheek?
Did it just appear one day when we weren’t watching?
Is it a line from some future poem?
An elegy?
Let me trace it with a finger
and my lips.
So much has happened when we weren’t watching,
so many messages from after all.
Lips now thinner, hair turned grey,
and where did the thin me go?

What will have happened next?

But should we care?
How does it happen that each time we touch
it’s all new?

Sonnet No 3: Slam night at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Running well behind schedule on the sonnets. Sorry, will do better. Meanwhile, I’m not making this up:

Sonnet No 3: Slam Night at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
We’re in line with a White IT consultant
who boasts two Matisse cut-out tattoos.
Someone’s shot dead in a car – the resultant
crime scene tape, marks the zone for clues.
In the street cops with Glocks are scoping a murder.
In the line a featured spoken-worder
waits. A Black poet says it’s droll
cops are called when words get out of control
in minority mouths. But speak not lightly
of poets and law. Inside the cafe
with wit and charm and rage they say
unsayable things, and say them nightly.
This may be where a new world starts
as words like bullets pierce our hearts.