I like poetry. I like the way it struts and boogies and whispers and wails and sneers and laughs and stinks and stomps and scratches and sneaks up on you like your own shadow. I like people who like poetry. They wear a patina that gets better with age. I like to sit in the audience at a poetry reading and watch new poets open their timid mouths and lay bare their writings. I like to listen as their words take on wings and flutter and flicker and fly. I like poems that rhyme and poems that don’t rhyme. I like veiled poems that repeat consonants and vowels in subtle secret. I like word combinations that follow me home. I like poems that stutter and stutter and stutter and then take off in song. I once read a poem that hammered out an idea and left it hot on my lips. That idea is still there, simmering on the edge of my tongue: I don't know what to do with it. I like to fill up on poetry and savor the aftertaste while drinking a glass of red wine at the end of the day. Poetry often smacks of home. Last night, I read a poem that tasted of homemade bread. I’ve tasted coppery, bloody poems and poems that reek of whiskey and nicotine. Jeff Newberry’s pieces often carry the aroma of youth and fish and saltwater. I can usually smell his works a mile away. Many of Christopher Martin’s writings take me back in time and bury my face in my children's hair. Shampoo. Sweat. Innocence. Herbert Shippey’s poem in the Spring 2013 issue of Pegasus is drenched in fumes of varnish. To me, Flames, by Billy Collins smells of smoke and excitement and fear, but you might not think so. That’s what I like about poetry: it’s a liar and cheat, and it's always telling a different story. Arrive early to a poetry reading and you’ll smell unspoken words hanging in the air just waiting to settle in your hair and cling to your clothes like the scent of a no-good, two-timing lover.
I attended ABAC’s Pegasus Ruby Celebration last week. Late that night I took a shower to wash the scents of poetry and prose from my flesh.
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