So, as I already mentioned, I set out on a September, sunny afternoon and went down to a local village area to read spontaneously to people I met. First time out my stomach was flipping… first person I asked said , “No I don’t have any time for that.”
I was careful to say I was not selling anything… sometimes I think I over-explained! I tried not to intrude, yet have a certain assertiveness about me. I tried to look friendly, yet not overly so. I tried hard 🙂
And, as I walked and as I risked, I met people who were willing to stop and listen for a couple of minutes while I read to them. I took a couple of different poems with me, tried to choose the right poem for the right person based only on my visual assessment of them… now that’s risky too! And I had a couple of conversations that came out of the reading. One about creativity, the other about the persons own realization that to stop and listen was not what she wanted to do, but when she did, she recognized a need within herself to slow down and pay attention to things other than work and her next appointment. And I didn’t try to draw out anything from these people… they shared their thoughts readily. One fellow challenged me on why I was doing what I was doing. Another creative type suggested it would be good to allow the listener to read along… that it was a bit difficult to follow just by listening to the words. Hmmm… really good stuff… great feedback from real people.
Here’s the poem I read most often.
Thoughts on dogs that get out of the yard
You came back. It could have been worse
like the sound of brakes, teeth
on shattering glass, could have been last gasp
flesh on metal. But, you came back smiling
tongue lolling like it was all a walk in the park
darkness no limit for eyes that glowed
in my flashlight beam another time
you went missing in the orchard after supper.
They say you don’t get the dog you want
but the dog you need. What do they know.
Like I need tongued welcomes, tracks
on Berber, eyes watching forays in the fridge.
Like I need chest pressed angry late night drives
’round the neighbourhood, cold hand squeezing
squeaky toys out windows, heat turned high.
You indulge in romps of freedom while I conjure
you drowned in a neighbour’s pool
you impaled on new house construction down the street
you riding in a stranger’s car, someone who is certain
they’ll do a much better job of keeping you safe at home.
Today we strapped a cow bell to your collar. We’ll hear you in the dark.