Napo 22 and VIPF BEGINS!

So it begins! The Valley International Poetry Festival!

Yesterday, we kicked it off with a lovely anthology release celebration and reading at the Mission Historical Museum. It was, in one word, magical. Truly. We sat out on the lawn and had a beautiful little picnic and poetry reading as the sunset. The only way it could have been better? If there was wine.

I was honored to have three poems in the anthology this year, and I read one of them at the reading. Always, though, the best part of the event is reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. Some of the highlights of the night were meeting Laura Pena, my long-distance critique buddy, chatting up Shirley Rickett and checking out her new poetry collection, Transplant, and holding the new anthology, Boundless, in my hands.

The fun continued today at UTPA, where Mary Ann Escamilla and I hosted a poetry reading with PW Covington and Shirley Rickett for the campus community. It was relaxed, laid back, and a little low key. Tonight, we'll be at The Flying Walrus for a poetry slam! Will I slam? No. I never slam.

Anyway, onto NAPO:

Today's prompt was to write a response to a famous poem.

I just scrolled through The Poetry Foundation's website for a bit until I came across a "famous" poet -- you know the kind, the ones we read back in high school.

So I came across Yeats, his poem, Politics.

And it made me think about all the creepy old men who stare at women, like the speaker in this poem. I don't know, I have an odd relationship with COM...they're everywhere. They're harmless. Sometimes, they're kind of sweet, but most always, they're creepy and make me feel uncomfortable.

And so, here's my response, a bit more, hmm, postmodern/feminist:

Creepy Old Men

How can I, a creepy old man
Standing there at the podium,
Fix my attention on anything
But the curl at the corner
Of his smile, the naughty glint
In the corner of his eye
As I, engrossed in the words
That roll off his tongue, grasp
At a single lock of my hair
And twist it around my finger.

He knows what he’s talking about,
Theory and literature. He’s read
Everything and recites knowledge
like a prayer to some distant god
I've never met, will never meet.

And maybe what he says is true,
But he has no idea what it means
to stand anywhere but there, to be
A tulip sitting in a vase of water, 
Eager to slough her cerise petals
to the floor, wilting in quiet contemplation.

I want to be loved. Everybody does
To become body, to tell him
How it feels, whisper wisdom
In his ear and laugh together
At the irony of everything.

But I know what that look means –
He wants my silence.
He wants to feel young again.

He wants to hold me in his arms.