02 March, 2020

A Personal Poem That Might Be Better Left Unshared

Joy Buzzer

Shelved at the video-rental store I worked at, at nineteen,
Were all the movies you'd expect, plus thousands
In a special section walled off from the general population
But accessible through a door, unlocked remotely
From behind the counter by a plastic doorbell-button.
The pornography the store carried was triple-X,
And the manager, whose lisp like dragon's breath singed up close,
Touted free employee rentals and the city's largest selection
Of bisexual flicks. He fished, but all I ever took home
Were Bowie's Ziggy Stardust concert film
And a Siouxsie & the Banshees compilation.
Some guys (of course it was always guys)
Strode across to the door, took the knob in hand,
And waved. For them I pressed the Joy Buzzer
Without delay. But with the skulking meek
Picking up DVDs of Antz and Apt Pupil and not reading
The plot summaries but, rather, casting glances
At nearby browsers before scurrying to the door the second
Backs were turned, I pretended pressing the button,
Seized by invisible laughter as they futilely tugged
And mugged aghast. We did a dance at that distance:
I shook my head, mimed confusion, then stooped again
In imitation of admittance, and they either tried the door
A second time or first spun to verify that eyes remained averted.
I tell you, I craved catharsis — for the shamed to see my thoughts
And know the one and only thing keeping them locked out.
But months of workdays went by without it, and I returned
To my cat and single-bedroom unit, to nights
Avoiding calls and company y in favor
Of sticking binoculars through the blinds
And reading smiling couples' lips
At the café across the street.

* * * * *

The situations depicted in this poem are, oddly (and sadly) enough, altogether fact-based. Maybe that's why I was never able to find a poetry journal or literary magazine interested in publishing it: they picked up on its reportorial vibe. This is why I decided it makes a better blog post than poem. Still, by virtue of form and language it is a poem. Can the poet say anything for himself that the poem itself doesn't reveal? Sure. That's the stuff of autobiography, though, and I'm not writing one of those

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