A few months ago, Laura Salas and I read and worked our way through Sage Cohen’s book, Writing the Life Poetic with a little blog-to-blog book club we called, Write After Reading. The idea was that we read a lot of craft books but we don’t often to the exercises. This way we read together shared the exercises that we did.
One of the chapters had an exercise about using the another poem as the jumping off point for a poem of your own. The title I chose to write to was “How to Listen”.
Here’s my version.
How to Listen
Put down that stinky cigarette,
the one you promised to stop smoking.
Quit fiddling with the piano
and no, you don’t need another drink.
You never need another drink.
Pretend if you have to —
you’re at work,
uniform neatly pressed,
just like all those lies you told me.
Eyes straight ahead.
Must. Not. Move.
Look at me, no, really look at me
in the eyes, those windows to my soul
you tried to crush.
I know I’m angry.
I want you to know it too.
I want you to hear what I’m saying
with my entire body.
I may not get this brave again.
Don’t look down
or away with that
“you just kicked a puppy” expression on your face.
It doesn’t work any more.
Focus on me,
the way you used to focus on me,
before vodka became your lover.
That pause between words
isn’t an invitation for you to interrupt and tell me
how the world is against you.
I don’t care.
You don’t have to listen long.
Just long enough
for me to say goodbye.
© 2011 Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.
The Poetry Friday Roundup is with Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.