Monday, November 3, 2014

#147: "Done" by Mark Wisniewski

~This poem was previously published in River Styx (2011).


she'd heard I had
an agent & asked me to dinner
& I ate
the dinner with
her & she'd heard I'd lived
in only one room & asked
if she could
see it & I said the couple
who owned the house with the room
forbade visitors
since they wanted to keep
their 2 small
daughters from even the sound
of what people who lived
in one room did with people willing
to visit
but it was now well
past the daughters'
bedtime & the house proved dark
the couple presumably
upstairs & I'd grown tired
of myself in the room
so I whispered "let's time our
footfalls" & soon we were
in & I closed the door
turned on the light
she stepped to my desk
read a letter
from the agent
removed her blouse
got on the bed
on her hands
& knees slid the panties
down her thighs
whispered to say she cared
only about whether I
liked it which made it harder
to like
through most of it I felt
used & sure I'd end up
homeless & when I was
done she stood
upright & dressed facing away
kissed my mouth &
tiptoed out
that agent never selling
a word of mine
those 2 daughters maybe
now married & divorced
perhaps about to learn how
it can all happen
in one room



Numerous poets have told me, sometimes angrily, that I'm no poet--too much narrative, they say, line breaks that break line-breaking rules, no workshop experience in poetry, apparent failure to read the masters--& for me now, okay, sure, fine, these naysaying poets have probably always been correct. I do not have the soul of a poet-in-2014; probably I should also mention that poetry, when I wrote it, was often just a quiet place to hide when the fiction game became unbearable. "Done" sort of exemplifies this, no? For calling it poetry, I apologize to any & all generous enough to read it all the way through.

Mark Wisniewski's third novel, Watch Me Go (Penguin Putnam, January 2015), has received early praise from Salman Rushdie, Daniel Woodrell, Rebecca Makkai, and Ben Fountain. His short fiction has won a Pushcart Prize and appeared in Best American Short Stories. His poems have appeared in The Iowa Review and Poetry.

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