By Thomas Page
I’ve never read any of my poems in public.
Not because I have some apprehension about sharing them in a room mixed of strangers and friends
But just that I prefer people to read them themselves.
I tend to write “closet poems” like many of the plays of the Roman language,
Meant for private consumption
But publish them on the internet like the door ajar.
Who knows, I might read them someday.
I might even read this one someday.
I may look the same as I did when I was 24
Or age like one of Gioia’s beached gods—
A California raisin from Monterey.
I might be as gray as a January afternoon
Or as vibrant as a July clap after a chemical boom
Or more likely as normal looking as a November Thursday.
I might say this in front of crowd who may pick up every fifth beat
While they look at their phones
Just someone showing their chicken scratch
Expecting it to be displayed on the fridge next to the perfect spelling tests and pictures and dental appointment reminders.
I might say this in front of one person only
Who gives me their undivided attention,
A person who shares some strands of DNA encouraging me to try despite the fact,
If we’re being honest,
I’m no Bill Shakespeare.
A person who might be an editor helping me clean this mess of a poem up,
A person who might be willing enough to deal with me and slip a ring on my left hand,
A person who might not know as Tom or Tommy or Thomas
But some other title I can’t even imagine who wants to know what I was like before I was donned that title.
Or even a stranger who I can’t describe well in a theoretical situation.
I might never say this poem
And it sits in some record keeper
With its title boldfaced with a ranged summary of myself
Or the trash can
Whatever is better for the planet at large.
Whoever I’m saying this to or whenever it is
I want you to know I wrote this while I was sitting in a burger joint
Practically empty at 7 O’clock at night
And not Xanadu.
Don’t let future me tell you that.
I don’t know what he’s like