Text Poetry: REDUX

by G.T.

Last Sunday, I half-heartedly sent a couple of poems to people who never responded. It had been days since I had sent poems before last Sunday, and I ignored this project that I had so proactively began over a month ago. I spent the last week writing other things. A couple acceptances, a couple rejections, and some pieces are still before those editorial firing squads, awaiting their fate. Shall they live and be published, or shot down, only to be resurrected and placed before another fateful wall where the blood of our works have stood and fallen before?

Yesterday, I spent all day reading, but towards the end of another Philip Roth novel, I pushed out my standard of three poems to three more people in between the lenghty narrations of Portnoy loathing his past loves and the depravity of his desires, not to forget the copious Hebrew slang present in Roth’s earlier work.

Kris’ Choice (708) – For those of you who had regularly read my text poetry, most of whom I have likely lost because of my lack of posting daily like I had done in the beginning weeks of this project, you may recall an interesting day when I asked three friends for phone numbers from their cell phones. This particular person offered a very interesting response that day. Keep in mind that I had no idea who this person was, and they didn’t know me. Their response was one that intrigued me. Blood rushed to my head and left me flattered, but in a suggestive way; a sense that they had pointed out the essence of my reason for texting him a poem in the first place.

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

I was thinking about that quote, said weeks ago, but still as fresh in my mind as Roth’s narrator’s sexist rant against his poorly educated mistress and whether he “should love her.” I set the novel down beside me, lit a smoke, and wrote another poem to the number named “Kris’ Choice” in my cell phone. At 4:00pm.

                                                             There was less a
                                                             point in finding
                                                             one who understood
                                                             than there was in
                                                             pouring those
                                                             images of
                                                             the soul onto
                                                             that plain brick wall
                                                             facing an
                                                             intersection.

I continued reading about The Jewish Blues, but grew anxious myself, and sent a follow up text in attempt to garner a reply.

5:14pm, Me: “You seemed to enjoy my first poem. I thought a second wouldn’t hurt.”

5:15pm, Kris’ Choice: “Ive been golfing i havent even read it properly yet”

5:16pm, Me: “And a beautiful day to be out on the green. Pardon my interruption.”

The sun had set and my natural light had waned. I moved inside to finish the last pages.

The next text messages were in groups of three. Rather than hinder the flow of each message, I’ll write them as one whole text, as they would be had there not been a character limit for text messages.

6:33pm, Kris’ Choice: “I dont let anything interrupt me on the course. No girlfriend no mom no texts from people i dont know. Actually im intrigued by your 2nd text as it relates to the poem. If youre just someone pouring images or drawing graffiti it seems strange youd wait for a response from one individual. Last time i assumed you were mass texting. Whats your intersection with respect to this project/assignment/diversion?”

Yeah, what was my reason other than following up with a second response, when in a sense, a part of this project is about texting poetry to unexpecting recipients? Am I needy of gratification, self-consciously? Well, I’ll tell him why I wrote it.

6:43pm, Me: “It was a project, too invasive to be assigned, and is now a diversion. You’re the only recipient of that poem. I wrote it in a maddened state, about somebody who needs to feel my words, but does not. I thought of the unanswerable graffiti artist, and what you had said weeks ago. And a poem was born.”

6:55pm, Kris’ Choice: “I guess thats why people sit at the bar sometimes youd rather talk to someone you dont know. Whatever it is Youll only know its value by how hard you try to get it. i forget who said sometimes walls arent there to hold you back but to show you how much you want it. I like the version better that goes if it was easy everyone would do it and no one would respect it. Im a sucker for quotes.”

7:12pm, Me: “And it is a sad thing to stare up at walls, drawn upon or bare. Few paint beauty out of happiness. As I’ve displayed tonight, I’m not one of them. How was golf?”

7:29pm, Kris’ Choice: “Im not very good by the score but i hit the ball straight today so i had fun 100 yards at a time. Thats a tough situation to feel unhappy about both the walls you have and havent painted yet. Id rather look up at the sky than the ceiling no matter the time or weather. Theres just something about having the back of your head touch your neck.”

Allow me to remind you. I’ve never met this person in my life.

Kris A. (815) – Here’s the guy who gave me the phone number of the fellow above. A high school chum, I introduced Kris to the world of fine cigars during Senior year, much to the intrigue of his father, and the disappoval of his mother. Soon it was fine and we often meet at our fancy cigar lounge for stogies and complimentary expresso. One winter afternoon, we spoke of God and religion over our hand rolled habanos. We both learned that we were raised in the Lutheran church. I have long since abandoned the religious aspect of life, but never quite dismissed the idea of God.

Personally, I rather like the thought of an omnipotent, everlasting force of nature that is all knowing, and when I walk forward toward the dense fog of circumstance and choice, He already knows what’s going on. And for some odd reason, I’m totally comfortable with that, and feel quite peaceful about it. The idea of God is not synonymous with religion, in my opinion. I don’t need religious dogma. I don’t need to get smacked in the face in hopes to get rid of this sinus congestion I’ve been having lately. I don’t need to oppose anyone else’s beliefs, because that’s you want to do. I don’t need to cut alcohol and pork out of my diet, because that ain’t gonna happen, kids. Give me a Cuba Libre and some Puerto Rican roasted pork, and I’ll eat and drink it all under a tree and listen to the birds. That’s happiness to me, is enough reason to live appreciatively, and that sounds like God to me. Throw in a plate of fried plantains, too.

Pardon my digression. So Kris and I were discussing religion and society, and Kris, being a Missouri Synod Lutheran, said, with all due respect, that according to his religion, I’d be hell bound because I do not fully agree with the beliefs that Jesus Christ was born from a virgin mother, and is the Son of God. Was I offended? Of course not. We’re friends, that’s his belief, and I actually respect him for being honest, and moreso, being a religious person who still speaks to me regardless of our differences.

Another reason I respect this aspect about Kris. His aspirations involve everything that is science and engineering. To be religious and to be in a discipline of skepticism and proving fact in the name of all that is physics. One could equate that to a married man in a room of nude mistresses. Pardon me. It’s all this reading of Philip Roth novels.

Therefore, I’m sure that Kris must have to find a middleground, a barrier that allows God and science to exist in harmony. He’s also struggling to decide whether to enter the workforce or apply to grad school. At 4:09pm.

                                                             You quantify the
                                                             book of saints and
                                                             argue that there is
                                                             a shroud covering
                                                             thermodynamics.
                                                             No matter the choice
                                                             you pick, heaven and
                                                             hell don’t change.

4:11pm, Kris: “And here I thought u had forgotten to send me a poem. I look forward to the other half of the alphabet”

I forgot to say that Kris is one of the few who knew about this project from the beginning.

4:14pm, Me: “My mind has been elsewhere. I wouldn’t have forgotten you. By thee way, who was that number you gave me a while ago?”

4:14pm, Kris: “My friend Jeff. He liked the poem”

4:15pm, Me: “Cool. I just second him a second.”

4:16pm, Kris: “Haha that should elicit an interesting response”

And it did.

Kurt E. (920) – A Wisconsin born fraternity brother with a passion for dance and electronica music. His room in the fraternity was basically a makeshift night club, with a woofer connected to a bunch of Christmas lights that lit in sync with the bump of the bass. And not to forget the revolving ball of coloful lights that spun atop its base on the television. Last I spoke to him, he’s back in the Cheese state, or whatever they call it, and he’s honing his DJing skills. At 4:24pm.

                                                             It twisted bodies and
                                                             made people see in
                                                             strobes and
                                                             technicolor blinks.
                                                             That dangerous
                                                             concoction, synthetic
                                                             drug, cooked on hot
                                                             turntables. Cooked
                                                             by you.

I didn’t think Kurt had my number, so I attempted to get a reply out of him. Even if it had to be that offensively unoriginal “Who is this?” that I’ve gotten so often.

4:54pm, Me: “Tell me, you receive a text and need not ask who it is?”

After finished the novel I had been reading that afternoon, I fell asleep, and awoke this morning to Kurt’s response.

7:48pm, Kurt: “Hey george. I’ve been driving for awhile and will be driving for a bit longer yet. And I still have your number, which takes some of the fun out of it. Anyways, cool poem of sorts. Idk what I should call it though. Hope your doing well.”

Name it whatever you’d like, Kurt.