Liz’s Weekend Poetry Series: Dealing With Pricks

by lizard

I’m going to have a little fun with this week’s LWPS and position a poetic dialogue between myself and Missoula poet Mark Gibbons, a fine poet who i have had the pleasure of listening to around town a few times.

Mark’s been kind enough to offer the much appreciated support ofcomments and verse here at 4&20, and does some great work with the Missoula Writing Collaborative.

This poetic dialogue will begin with a poem I wrote 4 or 5 years ago around this time of year, in which I play the role of the prick. In response, with his poem GRASSHOPPER, Mark will unfurl, through delightfully measured blows of verse, how one effectively deals with pricks through transcendence.

And before this dialogue begins, it should be noted Mark’s poem is from a collaborative effort between Mark and Michael Revere, titled War, Madness, & Love, published in 2008 by R&R Publishers.

Okay, here we go—


The poet was drunk.
He took his drinks with dinner, then went from there.
By nine o’ clock he was pushing poetry
onto mulling partygoers at a house party being thrown
for someone’s departure, or someone’s arrival, or
some other marked occasion that ultimately means
beer pumped from a metal shell (if his eyes were red balloons
then his mouth was surely an estuary). Yes,
few things in this world impress less
than a drunken poet
giving a garbled recital in the kitchen, next to the keg,
for a half-drunk audience of four.
This ain’t no beatnik revival, they could have said,
but they didn’t. Instead they disappeared like bowling balls
reappearing as participants in other orbital zones; the porch or
maybe the powder room.
And the poet?
Would he claim to be the last pin standing
abandoned by the kind of cowards and corporate clones who
catch one whiff of truth, then flee as if offended
by bug repellant?

No. Instead the poet (a barely buoyant log-jam
waiting to happen)
was helped home (walking on fins) by his wife (who retained
her feet) and he moved
like being swept downstream
in the hectic muddy thaw of Spring’s Big Flush.
And to absolve himself of the embarrassment he
created this: another splooge
of masturbatory ink.

—William Skink



It wasn’t the Birkenstocks & socks,
The Hemingway beard, or the hand woven man-purse;
It wasn’t the Aussie-flap Midnight Cowboy hat
Or his beat-hip postmodern literary rap;
It wasn’t even the acoustic guitar he carried
All the way from California
(& never played) that made this pontificating
Linguist & bland pamphlet publisher
A royal pain in the ass.
I don’t believe booze alone did it either,
Yet I suppose it was partly to blame.
God knows the prisons would be empty without John
Barleycorn. The dude handed out beers
& flattery before the reading.
I took him up on a micro brew.
Maybe that was a mistake. Who knew
The bastard was off his rocker (maybe off his meds)
Until he started hooting & hollering,
Pissing me off, interrupting
The Peace & Justice Reading Series poet
On stage. The country was at war,
& I wanted to give peace a chance—
Until this mouthy asshole piped up,
tried to steal the show. I leaned over,
Whispered, Shut the fuck up, & he went off
Like a Roman candle. I wanted so badly
To punch him, to hurt him, to throw his ass out the door,
To perpetuate war on this lippy prick,
This bullshit bohemian screaming
For freedom of speech, accusing me
Of being a Nazi. I felt the eyes of Gandhi
Upon me, my father’s hand on my shoulder.
Practicing peace is so much more
Difficult than talking about it.
I walked away & he chased me across the street,
Harping about a word in a line of a war poem of mine.
That’s when I knew this burr; this drunken,
Blathering, barking cur was actually my Kung Fu—
Like the mother-fucker who cuts in front of you,
Grasshopper, on Friday pay-day
At 6 o’clock in the bank drive thru.

—Mark Gibbons

And just for the record, I couldn’t grow a beard to save my life.

  1. Turner

    I really liked these poems, though poems about poets and poetry aren’t usually my favorites.

    I wonder. Is alcoholism an occupational hazard for poets? Are many of them still recycling Dylan Thomas?

    • lizard19

      yes, i think both poems escape the tedium of poems about poets who write poems. i’m glad you liked them.

      as for poets and their proclivity for over-indulging in drink and other substances, yep, still common, but i think that has more to do with brain chemistry (there are increased rates of mental health issues like being bi-polar among artists, and alcohol is a common substances used by those self-medicating) than consciously trying to fit into a caricature mold of a poet like Dylan Thomas.

  1. 1 An April Feast Of Poetry « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Dealing With Pricks […]

  2. 2 Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Anticipating April | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Dealing With Pricks […]

  3. 3 152 Poetry Posts to Celebrate April, National Poetry Month | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Dealing With Pricks […]

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