Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Faculty Voices: Ron Koertge

I’ve been unfaithful to poetry. Poetry with a capital P.  I’ve been careless and indifferent. Taking Poetry for granted. Now I’m paying the price. Poetry has given me the cold shoulder.

I try and explain that I have to make a living, even a meager one, and there’s more money in Prose. Poetry just stares out the window. I say that I wouldn’t write as well as I do without my affection for Poetry.

Poetry scowls, “You come home late smelling like Fiction. That’s just rude.”

I apologize all over myself. I say that I’m back if Poetry will have me. The checks are so small it wasn’t worth it. I don’t know what came over me. It was spring and I’d had a couple of mojitos. Poetry should understand intoxication. Poetry is intoxication itself.

We eye each other warily. “Well," Poetry says, “what are you working on now?”

With a sigh of relief I say, “Take a look at this opening. It’s promising, don’t you think?”
My Grandmother

 cut the chicken’s head off
 and the body ran amok.

Poetry nods. Slightly. “I like amok.”

 “Me, too. So far, so good, right?”

“What’s next?”

“Well, umm, well, that’s why I came by. I thought you might have an idea.”

“I just keep picturing you tooling around with Prose in that big red car.”

“But that’s all we did. Drive around. Nothing happened.” I reach for Poetry’s hand.

“So how about a little inspiration. Just a spritz.”

Poetry sighs. “Try something having to do with yellow feet.”

“The chicken’s, right? Not mine.”

Poetry stares at me. “Can you hear yourself? Lie down with Prose, get up with a tin ear.”

I opened my notebook. The words came easily.
           The boy I was cried. The man
                        I would become noticed the yellow
                        feet, the stagger and twitch,
                        my grandmother’s leer.

Poetry nods. A little. “Leer is nice.”

“Great! Thanks. It doesn’t seem done, though.”  I looked at Poetry imploringly. “Or is it?”

“You know what,” Poetry said. “I’ve been helping young poets who love me and only me, but they’re poor. You, on the other hand, can afford to take me out for dinner. I know I could think clearer by candlelight with somebody pouring a chilled California chardonnay.”

“And then we’ll finish the poem?”

“We’ll see.” Poetry started for the door. Then turned. “But are you really going to wear that shirt?”



  1. I knew I was in for a treat. This was delicious. Or perhaps savory is a better word for chicken.

  2. Ah. I miss Ron.
    And I miss poetry.
    But I can only afford a chain restaurant.

  3. Poetry is my first friend. We've been together a long time. Prose, aka, published book, is calling on my smartphone, asking for the "Go To Press" approval email. Perhaps I have room for two friends.

  4. And you always play so hard to get whenever we get together anyway...

  5. Man, I missed the boat when I didn't get you as a mentor. And there were plenty of life preservers. Thanks for making this tough writing job so much fun.

  6. As for me, I can gloat because I DID have you as a mentor and I will be forever grateful for the patience, indulgence and direction you provided to the gal who wanted to work with you because the idea of plunging into poetry scared the shit out of her.

  7. Profe! I have been laughing all the way to bank about this.... Poetry is the salvation for the poor but watcha cuz she know's what's good!