Cleaning Up After The Poetry Salon
A Poem by Doug Von Koss

It’s not always easy.

Proper nouns are manageable.
They stack well.
Biggest on the bottom
The Great Plains, Idaho, Mt. Rainier –
then the smaller stuff left behind –
Boxcars, photographs, you know.

Adjectives are remarkably tough to clean up.
The dry ones catch on the furniture,
bury themselves in cracks
hide in the pocket of an old sweater.
They crumble to awkward, ungainly,
unmanageable, yes fragile
pieces …that somehow cunningly avoid
the shedding broom some poet has
left behind.
And wet ones like sticky and slimy – yikes!

Cleaning up the leavings of Wendell Berry?
it’s a grange meeting hall.
Rich black dirt everywhere,
corn stalks, the lingering thick odor of
compost and just a hint of cow manure
on your shoes and your best carpet.

And Jesus! Those poems about stars –
the poets have no idea.
Whole constellations left behind –
Watch it with the Pleides, they have sharp points
And yes, the Dog Star does bite.

My rule would be –
you brought ’em, you take ’em home.

Food is good in a poem.
Mom’s apple pie and romantic dinners for two
are usually digested by the salon – no leftovers.
It’s the ethnic dishes with strange names
luedafisk, sauerkraut, gefiltafish
and anything made with hot peppers
Well, you know.

Poets – a little consideration –
slip in some sponges, maybe
a mop or really – just a mouthful of food,
a spoonful –
yes, spoons for everybody.

And come on,
no animals bigger than a cat or small dog.
polar bears and coyotes are disasters.

Oh I could go on…
mixed metaphors sliding
down the walls and tangled
in the drapes.

Cliches hiding their heads in the corners.
shy, embarrassed marmots standing by dead seals.
stinking sea weed and sharks behind the sofa
And fish – fish beyond number –
flopping on the floor.

Verbs are easy – they move around
so much – just
open the door and they
take care of themselves.

But poets,
It’s the birds left behind…
Egret, Robin, wrens, a flock of seagulls,
a murder of crows…
For God’s sake leave a window open.

But eagle, oh my friends, the eagle
he glowers there
from the chandelier
Royally pissed!
A moment in a poem
then forgotten
in the closed room.

I know, I know.
I’m making a new mess now –
I’ll need some help here with
Idaho and that eagle.

For the rest
I brought ’em.
I’ll take ’em home.

Great Mother and New Father Conference
Orcas Island, Washington June 2003
© 2003 Doug Von Koss


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