The Audience I May Never Meet

by G.T.

This morning, I was in an awful state. Terribly bad mood, very tired, and it’s only the sixth day of this project and it’s beginning to feel redundant to me.
The first listing was a number listed as “C”. I had absolutely no clue who this person could be, because I always list a person’s first and last name in my Contact’s List. Again, through confidential connections (Facebook), I typed the phone number into the search bar, and received one result. A fraternity brother named Max M. His first and last names don’t even have the letter “C” in them. I must’ve been drunk when he gave me his number. It probably went something like this:

“Hi, George! I’m Max. Let me give you my number and we can hang out sometime!”

“Sure. What’s your name again?”

“Max!”

“Well I’m gonna call ya ‘C’.”

And I’ve never spoken to him since. He must’ve given me his number when he was a pledge, a naïve first year, who, like most new pledges, thought I was cool. Eventually they come to their senses.
The second guy is another fraternity brother that I wouldn’t mind contacting, and the third is yet another fraternity brother who’s face I want to punch everytime I see him. Today, the poetry felt burdensome. Part of it was my mood, and the other part of it was, well, the project is starting to take on this certain linearity and repetition for me, and an idea sprang to mind.
My initial plan was to send one poem to every phone number in my Contacts List. From beginning to end, and I was going to do this in alphabetical order. That way, I couldn’t pick people for any old reason, because I felt that I may be tempted to select people that I would be comfortable writing to spontaneously. Six days in, and my confidence has far surpassed that beginning worry that I wouldn’t have the balls to write everyone. Well I’ve got the balls to write everyone. In fact, I decided to change my plans today, and do something a bit different.
I contacted three people, and their identities will be withheld. They could’ve been people who have already received poems, people that I casually know, or my neighbor who collects cans and refuses to speak to anybody. On second thought, I doubt that he has a cell phone. Well I asked for a random phone number from their Contacts List. I wanted a stranger, or at the very least, a number that I didn’t know, but somebody that they thought was outgoing. Nobody that would receive a poem via text message and say, “Eh, I don’t understand what this is about.”, and not respond. This idea put me in a better mood, so it was already working well, in my opinion.

(405) – Another Oklahoma number. Damn, did I have a good poem for this kid yesterday. Can’t do that, though. Another case of redundance, and that would be no fun for any of us. My anonymous source said that this person had travelled to Hawaii with them in the past, and was outgoing. Oklahoma and Hawaii are very different places. Long ways to travel, too. I needed an idea that didn’t involve Indians, because I used that yesterday. I consulted my bird Homer, a seven-year-old peach faced lovebird. He said, “chirp”, and humped his perch. What can I say? He’s lonely. But Homer gave me an idea. This person’s travelling is far reaching, like the sound of a bird. At 12:47pm.

“Eagle chants heard
above Black Mesa
can reach the
tropicbirds of
palm marshes.
Perhaps the
quetzals perched
atop Maya ruins
will hear the
eagle, too.”

Now if this kid spends Christmas in the Yucatan, I want a reality show on TLC. The Prophet. I give it half a season.
I crouched over and fell asleep with my phone in my hand while writing the other two poems. I didn’t wake up until damn near six o’clock tonight, but (405) did reply.

2:29pm, (405): “What the fuck lol? Who is this btw”

Fatigued, laying in bed. I didn’t know what to say to him. Here, good enough.

5:50pm, Me: “Poet.”

6:37pm, (405): “Well thats fun..! I’ve climbed Black Mesa btw”

Good move on my part. That’s why it’s important to do your homework.

6:47pm, Me: “That sounds like fun, too. Almost as fun as poetry…kidding, I’m sure it’s better. I wrote an OK number yesterday, and mentioned Little River and the Choctaw.”

Two minutes later, (405) is calling me. Rather than answer, I wanted to wait and see if they’d leave a voicemail.

“Hello. this is random.”

I think that I’ll be writing this person in the future. Good interaction, but it’s expected that he felt somewhat odd about it.

(979) – Texas. The Alamo. Texas Roadhouse. Texas. They’ve got Lone Star, too. In Illinois, these are what come to mind when one thinks of Texas. Not me, though. However, I didn’t want to focus on this person’s state. If they’re like me, they’re much different than what defines their environment. The source of this number told me that (979) has a tendency to find a positive side to anybody’s point of view. Sounds like he has trouble picking a side. At 5:58pm.

“Suspended
in midair
without a
side
a cause
a god
or a word
of dissent
to lead you
to the
ground where
everyone
is wrong
but have
a reason
to die.”

One of my strategies for today was to write especially “heavy” poetry. Something strong and packs a bit of a punch. I usually write that way. Just ask an editor or two from literary journals that have rejected my work.

“While there are good elements to this story, we find that the narration and dialogue are too heavy for our current aesthetic.”

So what if the widow slept with her dead husband’s best friend? After the funeral. Everybody grieves differently. I was trying to explore that.

And getting the slightest background on somebody, the poem may subtly intrigue the reader. This guy didn’t reply right away. The source ask that I not “stalk this person”, or do what I’ve done to previous people, but interested in a response, I sent them one more message a couple of hours later.

8:14pm, Me: “Not all poems are wonderful, because some verses need to look directly into us and others.”

And face it, nothing is dirtier than truth and reality.

8:27pm, (979): “Who is this? Sorry, But I don’t have your num saved”

8:28pm, Me: “I’m the Poet Laureate of Hard Knocks.”

Well, they weren’t interested after that. Maybe they prefer sonnets. Nobody ever said that I was prophetic.

(708) – Here’s a local number. South burbs. I asked the source of this number if the recipient smoked and drank. I had an idea for a poem that involved those two vices. No, well give me a characteristic. Obsession. At 6:10pm.

“Heart chokes
in the lust
of chrome
plated
best of your life
desires.
And I
never
loved them
for we’re all
going to be
the dust for others to
step on.”

6:17pm, (708): “Poetry is so much more interesting when you stop focusing on making the words rhyme.”

Very cool. The only people that have acknowledged the poems themselves were those that I knew well.

6:22pm, Me: “Rhyming, in my opinion, compensates for lack of depth or theme. It’s best left for the kids. And gangsta rappers.”

6:55pm, (708): “You must be the kind of person who would draw graffiti. Art for an audience you will never meet.”

That answer moved me. Especially so, because today was exactly like that. I planted an image or thought into somebody’s mind, somebody I’ve never met, likely never will meet, and let it go for that person to make whatever they will out of what I wrote. The first person had climbed Black Mesa, Oklahoma’s highest peak, and there, they could definitely immerse themselves into the poem in some way. I wonder if they understood the tropicbirds reference. Tropicbirds are endemic to Hawaii, but that’s a stretch. The last thing a person would refer to when reading a poem is an ornithological field guide. I tried, though. I’d say that today was one the most interesting days yet. I may have to try this approach again, or another idea that’s come to mind since this morning.