“A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits.” – Robert Heinlein
Mark Heinlein reads his poem “It’s Sunday Night And The Forecast Predicts Clouds and Rain And The Alarm Is Set For Four” to help celebrate Poetry Month 2012 at San Jose State’s Legacy Day. The reading helped honor the death of Adrienne Rich, and Mark reads a poem by the fine poet Phyllis Koestenbaum, a Bay Area writer and former classmate of Ms. Rich’s at Radcliffe University. Phyllis’s poem “Proust” is included in her prose-poem collection Doris Day and Kitschy Melodies.
Here I am reading a poem from Everything We Call Ordinary:
My youth was spent no further than a quarter mile from some 7-11 where I could buy Hershey’s Score bars, cherry-root-beer-suicide Slurpees,Star Wars, packs of Topps baseball cards with their thin wafer of pink gum each. I’ve never known summer evenings without yellow street lights robbing the night sky of the endlessness of stars. When I lived in Richland, Texas, every summer fewer and fewer fireflies lit the front yard on summer evenings we’d walk to the all-night Tom Thumb to buy Pop-Rocks, Dr. Pepper or Chico-Sticks.
Now I live a block from Taco Bell, Baskin Robin’s, Safeway, a 76 station, but I never walk to shop. I get in the truck, drive over for sliced ham sandwich meat, two-scoop sundaes, or 7-layer burrito, Pepsi and Mexi-Melt. I walk to lose weight, too fat to run, too fat to ride a bike, too fat to Jazzercise (do they do that anymore?), too fat to tie my shoes without losing my breath bending over. Is this what I expected all those years of carefree summers? Is this what my life
amounts to? All those years turning-two at second and drag bunting for base hits through high school and college. I remember limping off the diamond the last time, it was sunset, I saw an owl swoop down from a branch and snag a mouse. I pulled a hamstring. I thought, I’ll never have to worry about this again. That night I got drunk on Mickey’s wide mouths, screwed my roommate’s girlfriend’s roommate (everyone wanted to), and thought, I’ll write poetry for a living, then thought, You rotten son-of-a-gun, you’re gonna live forever.