I refer to myself as a warrior-poet, because it sounds more mysterious and less douchebaggerous than explaining that I write screenplays, one-acts, theatrical productions, short stories, poems, and nonsense. But I earned the sword and pen. Entirely by accident.
I went to a poetry reading once. Because a friend asked me. And she was hot. Not just physically, but poetically. The other poets would drone on about awkward sexual experiences or how they learned yoga to stretch their toes to reach shotgun barrels while they were in their mouths. It was like watching Jerry Springer sans the carnivalistic whimsy. Then my friend got up, and smoked us in our seats. It was a poem about her grandmother reading tea leaves. It was so simple, but she infused her words with so much passion, I wanted to pounce on her and savage her with love. Instead, I sent her some of my poetry.
I did it by email, asking her to read them and tell me what she thought. I hadn’t heard from her for a couple days. Then weeks. Then a month. So I ran into her on campus and decided to debonairly broach the subject.
--Hey. You read my shit?
--My poems. You like them?
--Oh yeah. You won.
--You won. The poetry contest. You won for Winter.
-- The fuck?
See, I forgot that my dear friend was editor of the literary magazine for our campus. So instead of reading my stuff, she submitted it. And apparently I won the poetry award and $25 for my poem, “darwinism at its finest”. Because I do everything in lowercase. Because I was listening to way too much Smiths at the time.
Well not only did I win, but apparently I was going to be the featured poet at the next poetry reading. Unfortunately it was the same night as our rehearsals for Falstaff. In which I was playing Falstaff. Me and Orson Welles, baby, tubby bearded bitches in our early twenties. I told the director that it would be really great if I could leave rehearsal a little early to go to the poetry reading I was being featured in. Instead, I got a lecture about commitment to my craft, which caused us run over, so I had to haul my fat ass across campus to the coffeeshop where the poetry reading was going on. I would not recommend a fried chicken and pizza diet for fast transit.
I got there, to find my two friends onstage, stoned out of their fucking minds, jamming on guitar and what appeared to be an African decorative mixing bowl with some sort of voodoo stick which made a weird tonal sound. They were the “intermission”. My poetess had been practically begging people to hang around for my reading. This was not being assisted by Smoked Up and the Bandit doing a fifteen minute rendition of “Whoa!: A Choral Ode to Keanu Reeves and Holy Shit I Have Fingers”.
There was myself, and one other poet left to go. The other poet was a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute next door to our campus. Susan asked us which of us would care to go first. I told him to go, because I wouldn’t get beaten with soap bars wrapped in towels by my roommates if I was late. Worst case scenario, they’d have drank all the beer.
So my friends kind of pass out onstage, and Susan takes the opportunity to distract them with something shiny and thank them off the stage. This kid goes up. I figure cool, he’s from VMI, he’ll probably have stuff about war and sex.
--Black curtains before me mother cuts my skin blood pours out.
Oh. Shit. Susan looks at me with an “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know” look.
--She loves me with the knife and curtains blacken hell my wounds.
No. No. Fuck. I look up. People are starting to gather their coats. He finishes.
--I have one more.
Oh, shit. Maybe it won’t be so--
--Stained glass windows break the virgin falls cutting my eyes.
Motherfuck a duck. People are starting to pay their tabs. I’m begging the Virgin Mary to kill him so I can get up there. I’m pleading for the muses to slit his throat. Away with thee! Away!
He walks off. Susan runs up, doesn't even both with an intro, just says, “Brian Prisco”. I desh up to the microphone as people are getting ready to walk up the stairs. I grab it and stammer.
--Hi everyone. I’d like to read my first poem. It’s called Ode to My Penis.
Don't worry. It's not very long.
Everyone pauses and stares at me in horror.
--That was the poem.
They start looking at each other.
--I’m kidding. I’m kidding. Please sit down.
They laugh and sit. I then proceed to bust into my very first poetry reading. The audience is laughing and clapping, and I’m filled with fire. I see Susan smiling, which made the whole thing worth it. Because I did it for her.
I go into my last poem, the poem that won me the honor of featured poet and got me $25, which promptly went to a pizza and beer victory for me and my roommates.
as the smug teenage punk
in his tattoos and piercings
and tommy hilfiger jeans
three sizes too big
coasts by two small children
eating ice cream cones
on their front stoop
he turns to give them the finger
but falls off his skateboard
and breaks his balls on a fire hydrant
crushing his testicles
before falling into the creek
and the children laugh
good for them
The things we do for love, you know?