When I finally make it to the Façade, I hear the reading beginning without me.
I sit for a while on the porch outside and wait. The poet begins his reading in a low grumbling which may or may not be words and in a tongue other than that which he normally speaks. 1Rumblerumblerumble.
He snaps his fingers and sways as he is slowly translated by the crackling of the fire and the chill on the night breeze. He wants us to sit and listen, if listen we can. Since he gathered everyone to the fireside prior to any rumbling, everyone is already sitting and listening. He opens his eyes for an instant and surveys the crowd with the gaze of a predator. A fierce, tiny, corduroy clad predator with bad skin and an accent of his own construction. The rumbling stops for a moment as he checks his note-cards to be sure that he is rumbling correctly, and begins again.Rumblerumblerumble.
Heavy Breathing can be heard from the fireside, as one of the Vassar girls, an historian specializing in the defiant rise of consonance in the fat face of the patriarchal western aesthetic, has already swooned. Lord, I ask you humbly to have mercy on her soul once the actual words are spoken. Christ have mercy.Rumblerumblerumble.
This cat daddy is just warming up. He is pointing at the object in his hand—a mug of something steaming. I cannot see him clearly through the blown glass windows of the cabin, so I am not sure whether he means that as a ceramic vessel, this mug connects him to a grand and ancient truth--a microwave safe totem, or that the sneering message on the mug should not be taken literally when it states, from behind the image of a burning tree, “Cigarettes cause Forest Cancer.” The mug looks terrified, as though he might break it to pieces rather than sip herbal tea from its trembling lip. The rumbling stops again for a moment as he, momentarily overcoming his animal nature, sips the tea, clears his throat and begins his epic shriek.
The answer is
The agony of my suffering is
Trial and tribulation
Before the next line 2 can be hurled down the linen slacks of some undergraduate admirer, I kick open the door to the mess hall, stumble in and continue the earlier growl. I had listened outside the door long enough to insure that I could not only interrupt at the perfect time, but resume his piece for him. I figured his rage and subsequent whining would be a perfect segue into my grand work, “Cavalcade of Failure.”
2 I had intended to let the piece continue for a few minutes, but decided against it. The reader in question often practiced his work near the lake, so everyone at the reading had heard some version of this poem before. The particular draft which stands out in my memory followed up the trial and tribulation line with some gibberish about the eternal bruising of the toe of one’s heart on the nightstand of ignorance during the midnight of the soul’s limitless wandering something or other. I wasn’t about to subject myself to that again, so I went ahead and burst into the room.