Today, we have two newcomers, Mary Ruefle, who is a former greens-keeper and primarily a flash fiction author, and Abigail Zimmer, who I met once in Chicago at that touristy pier thing with the boats and the shops and ball-peen hammer and the giant bell or anchor I forget. (Abigail was at the beer garden sort of glimmering on a table drunk and doing standup. She kept dropping Derek Jeter jokes that were like 6 out of 10 funny, though humor is admittedly subjective and I had a head cold weeks early sort of lingering like ceramics.)
Hey, guys, you know why Derek Jeter’s house is so damn big?!
Ehhh…something about girlfriends, batting average…
What good is memory? I know about ten dog stories, yet I have experienced countless dogs in my life.
Abigail Zimmer writes of mice and oranges, here.
Ruefle sometimes erases shit, which seems especially cool/lazy.
I never get head colds. That’s a dern lie. Anyway, I was hungover from so much running in the parks and dairylands of Chicago, the hills and wales of Chicago–sing it with me–the rolling hills, the nighttime thrills, the icy spills, the chills running down the wine, the line, the fishing line of memory, the rain, something, something…the…ah, never mind. Let’s do this!
What shall we try?
Let’s try, “A Penny For Your Thoughts” (Ruefle) versus “My best friend says that Horton Hears a Who is an allegory for the impending zombie takeover.” (Zimmer)
The rules are simple: Which author writes the better poetry in the two texts I have chosen? The categories are:
Best Opening Line
Best Thing That Made Think
Best Reference to Nachos
Best Ending Line
Grab your Pop Tart and glass of red; and let’s begin!!
BEST OPENING LINE
How are we to find eight short English words
that actually stand for autumn?
It’s a good question. As use of the interrogation point, or the eroteme, as my sixth grade substitute teacher would insist, as she passed around various over-sized glossy photos of herself in a bikini atop a motorcycle (she was later dismissed). I always wanted the question mark to be a bolt of lightning, but I wasn’t consulted. So. Opening with a question bring me, the willing reader, into play. Sean, would you like to enter my poem, to sit with me at the table, to track with me a hurricane of ideas, to leave yourself, to threaten your own national insecurities, to dance, to twirl, to synapse, to spend billions of tax dollars on rainbows, to arrive, arrive like the cinnamon whirl from a ceiling fan mounted on the blood moon. these opening lines really remind me of sitting by a river with the author, drinking strong coffee from a blue, ceramic mug. Possibly we are naked. I liked it.
On the first day of the apocalypse the conductor stops calling out the names of where we are but I recognize Belmont because a drag queen is stealing your cell phone.
I Think we’ve had quite enough of apocalyptic literature at this point in time.
Best opening line goes to Mary Ruefle!
Hmmm…well MR’s poem is full of images, because all really good poetry is full of images. It’s tough. It’s like I’m picking the best acorn from a really solid barrel of acorns someone picked from the ground and placed into the barrel for some unknown reason. They all taste good to deer and any of them could grow into an even larger oak tree and taller oak tree and be around way after me (like all quality images), my children’s children might attach a swing to even one limb of the image and swing and swing and swing! And rainbow, rainbow, rainbow! Ok, I’ll go with this one:
Now the clouds look burnt. But first they burned.
That’s what I’m talking about.
There are halogen trees and fields of people discussing the just announced Pantone color of the year.
I’m not discussing Halogen trees at this point. I’m a man of principles. I don’t know what Pantone means. But I do enjoy Abigail’s keen sense of word choice. As she once said in Chicago, “The American language has too many words and is basically a pain in the ass, but, for poets, it’s OK, right, it’s like what Derek Jeter says about base hits: ‘you can’t really have too many.’ Words are basically base knocks for poets.”
Well said, Abigail.
Abigail wins best image!
(Mylar balloons drift and whirl from the ceiling like those kids you see on the streets of Vancouver.)
Best Thing That Made Think
One peculiar way to die of lonelinessis to try.
I have oft wondered if the lonely are purposely lonely, or if it’s a condition of the others, or if it’s societal/anti-societal, or if it’s something else entirely. Loneliness, as we know, adds irreverence to life, I mean chemiluminescent, like when you see minnows spinning (dead minnows) in a pool of mountain water and their scales are spinning in a sort of vortex–I mean to say loneliness puts a special “butter” on the edges of a moonset and also of course makes night air smell like copper. Then again, let me write a poem: I call it, Pomegranate Series __9.
I still don’t know what Pantone means and, no, I’m not going to Just Google it. That would be death. Akin to death. Then again, from my rotting body, flowers shall grow and some little kid will probably pick the flowers, you know, and the kid will try to give the flowers to his stinking drunk mom, who’s just drinking, you know, spending all day drinking and night, too, drinking with two or three men and sometimes three or four other men and usually another woman or two, sometimes from Memphis, a waitress or idle man from out of town, whatever, and she’d end up in dances in the country (B52 Love Shack, anyone?), those wonderful hot nights in the country, and really what could some sickly, little kid with a loofah gourd for a head (the shape), how could that kid compete, even if he has a fistful of flowers picked from the soil that was once my rotting body? So, anyway, not sure why I’m scared of death, is my point, I’ll live forever in the sweaty, rejected fist of a kid. I’m writing this from a swimming pool, BTW. In Kentucky. Anyway, I’m not Googling Pantone, I said I wouldn’t, damn it!, is my key point of emphasis here.
Best Thing That Made Think is won by Abigail!!! We might have us a dern upset here, folks! There’s a long drive, deep center field, it might be, it could be, it is! A home run! Holy Cow! This whippersnapper from Chicago with her Derek Jeter jokes, all sashaying, walking tall, legs flailing out like a plastic bag of sporks on the table, kids dropping Monopoly boards as they run wild down the sidewalks of holidays and life!
Best Reference to Nachos
Talk for half an hour about the little churchyardfull of the graves of people who have diedeating nachos.
First, I enjoy the humor. Obviously, no one has ever died from eating nachos, since nachos–as research has proven–is the single healthiest serving of food in the world, whether you eat them for breakfast or just because you are at local bar, lonely on a Sunday afternoon, sitting gaunt, grizzled, austere, wishing you were eating nachos as you eat nachos.
When I read this verse, my head chopped off like a blade of ice melting across a frozen sea of a skittle, a real skittle, not the fucking candy. It’s like the love I feel for plagiarism and deadlines, as both go whoossssshing by.
I read these lines and stood up from the Kentucky swimming pool and I let out these words (loudly, echoing among the sickly, loud kids of Kentucky):
I AM A PEAR! I FEEL LIKE A PEAR!
I don’t even know what that means. I felt like a galloping bat, like I just galloped past the house and kept on galloping, my little sonar pinging, pinging, and isn’t that what the lonely do, send out little pings?
I felt like I had done treed a deputy of the law.
There’s a dude in this swimming pool I swear his knees look like Norm McDonald’s knees. Odd.
Abigail Zimmer, she doesn’t mention nachos.
Best Ending Line
To you I must tell all or lie.
I prefer the lie.
I give it to you because I am asking for Bieber’s beautiful wave of adult hair and an elephantine ass like Billie Holiday must have had, had anyone thought to take a picture of her walking away.
Get Billie Holiday’s name out your mouth! But I do like writing about asses…Hmm.
The winner, in a close one, is…
MARY RUEFLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here’s a photo of her eating nachos.
Hang in there, Abigail. It was a close one. Here’s a photo of Abigail for you kind folks:
Until the next tempest,