Stray Poet


Once in poetry club a long silence fell.

It was after this kid had got through reciting some poem he’d written on the back of a failed scatterplot. It was something about a girl, a window, and him – yes him not the speaker the guy in the flesh – sitting under that window with maybe a ghost of a guitar silently strumming his heartstrings, receiving nothing but the echo off the wall behind his sunken spine in return. In short, she wasn’t interested.

He got through the last slobbered-ink word and then a deadly silence fell. I had something to say, I thought it was meaningful and profound (the thing I had to say that is) so I took a deep breath and spoke up:

“The poem reminds me a little bit of a stray dog.”

Titters redden cheeks which flee behind sweatered shoulder-hills of girls throughout the room.

“Like, that feeling of being outside all the time, forgotten at night, unwanted, blotted off the landscape by the city maintenance team, and all you really want is to be wanted by just one girl, one warm fireplace and closed door viewed for once from the inside…”

Locked and bolted ears. Glances flash between faces. Error messages register in iris digitalia.

“That’s not exactly what I was going for,” he chuckles, though he isn’t laughing.

There. I broke the silence. Now other speakers swoop in to repair the damage. False words, words about commas and influences. Slowly their crow wings close in a circle around the injured fledgling and his fallen silence, a black-feathered fence that keeps me out like acid rain rolling off their unhearing backs. I said something stupid. I trivialized his poem by comparing the speaker to a stray dog looking for a home.

As they shut me out I am exactly a hornet on the wall. I am exactly that crushed hornet beneath the noble shoe, bleeding purple juice, thinking hornet thoughts, dead to protect something feminine and bigger than myself I guess.


Image credits in order of appearance:

By Marlies Kloet – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Jean-Honoré Fragonard – anagoria, Public Domain,


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