Thursday, July 24, 2008


This was my first (and perhaps last) attempt at a prose poem:


I meet another writer at the writers’ conference. He asks what I think of the conference so far, and I tell him I don’t have much in the way of comparison. He asks how many others I’ve been to, and I tell him this is my first. It’s my fifth, he says, and he’s curious--How you would rate this among others you’ve attended? I tell him it’s not only my first writers’ conference but my first conference whatsoever. Really? He looks me over, approximating my age. Never for work? I tell him I’ve never held a job that required conference attendance, and he looks me over again. What do you do? I tell him how I just finished studying at the University of Pittsburgh, but he doesn’t seem to care. Nonetheless he asks, Who did you study under there?

And I tell him I didn’t really study under anyone; in fact, I wouldn’t say I’ve ever studied under anyone, but there was this Asian girl I knew in San Francisco who had one breast that was noticeably smaller than the other, and when she’d ride me the nipple on the one would trace a much larger circle in gyrating than the other, and I suppose if I ever studied under anyone it was her. But I don’t remember her name, and even if I did, “study” probably isn’t the word I’d use because it’s not like it was the Rosetta Stone or the text of Ulysses; it was just a pair of cock-eyed titties. “Gawk” would probably be a better word than “study,” but you gawk at not under someone, I ask, Don’t you?

To which he replies, Pittsburgh’s a much cleaner city than most people realize, just before excusing himself to meet the famous writer he’s spotted on the other side of the hotel bar, which is, by the way, where we are—the conference’s hotel bar, which shares the name of this poem and was probably named to reflect the kind of networking that takes place at such hotel bars, at least that’s my guess until I notice all the framed photographs of New York City’s bridges upon the walls, at which point I realize I may have been reading more into the name than I should have.

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