July 09, 2007

Private Eye

He was nervous--they always are,
the new ideas, fidgeting in front of
my big desk. I didn't have to ask
what he wanted. I'd seen it all before:
The threadbare concept, the vague, tired image,
bathed in unearthly light. "Look," I said,
"Why don't you go to the press?
They can find words for anything,
fast and cheap." "You don't understand--
I'm a very private thought. You
are a private poet, aren't you?"
"You bet." (Three cob-webbed file cabinets full
of private poetry.) "But I don't handle
love poems. They're nothing but
trouble. Make a bum out of you
every time." I cracked my knuckles.
His cigarette ashes missed the tray.
"But you're my last hope! I've tried
greeting card writers, novelists, cartoonists--
I even begged a whole English Lit. and
American Studies Department! No one
would help me. I simply must have a
Poet!" His eyes were as bloodshot
and chaotic as my own. But what
the hell, I'd had nothing else to
say lately, and there was a strangled
eloquence about him, just the hint of
a new angle. If I'd known then
where it would lead me--tangling
with six rough drafts, getting tied up
in a sestina, fighting off a mob
of sentiments, the blood-chilling message
from Mr. Big ("...indeed sorry...cannot use
your work..."), and most of all HER, Muse, sweet, sad
Muse, those big dumb eyes pleading
with mine to go on, find the missing words
somehow--Ah, Muse, what did I
get you into!... Had I known, I wonder, would I
still have returned his feverish stare
(He had to be expressed, see--
it takes some of them that way) and
said so nonchalantly "Okey dokey, I'll give it
a whirl...."

—Dean Blehert

Posted by dwaber at July 9, 2007 11:51 AM