don’t remember how to cope
with the blood
your opinion about love
hippo goddess—teeth everywhere
Mostly I don’t enter poetry contests because I think that contests encourage you to waste your creative energy thinking about what judges might want to read instead of what you actually want and need to write [she said in a lofty, insufferable tone]. Or maybe it’s just me they encourage to do that and everyone else is way too well-balanced and sensible to be influenced by the opinions of imaginary judges that way. Anyway. I do make exceptions for contests that have exceptionally cool prizes. And by “exceptionally cool prizes” I don’t mean “a pile of cash” or “a trip to Hawaii” or “a new convertible” though there aren’t any haiku contests that have prizes like that anyway. I mean prizes like getting your haiku plastered on the back of a bus in your home town.
And then having your son find himself one afternoon riding his bike behind the bus down the main drag of your home town, and having him quickly haul out his phone so he can take a picture of it for you. (I’m pretty sure that’s his photo-taking shadow in the bottom left corner.)
That’s what I mean by a good prize.
A lot of people on Facebook (thanks, Facebook people!) pointed out that the other things that are written on the bus can be read as links from my poem, or the next verses in a sequence after mine. Also, there are many other graphic features in this photo that are fascinating to me, especially the many circles, from the ones in the awesome graphic design that students at a local college created to go with the poem, to the brake lights on the bus, to the roundish patches of late-afternoon light that’s probably sifting through the branches of trees planted along the street. The whole thing is amazingly organic. As poems and life should be.
P.S.: This poem, in a slightly different form, originally sprang from an extremely organic lengthy email conversation between me, Aubrie Cox, and Lucas Stensland that took place back in 2012. The condensed version of the conversation that’s linked above is fun to read, but not as much fun as it was to write.
P.P.S. I have another cool contest prize to tell you about but I think I’ll wait until I have pictures of it to show you, which will be another few weeks.
A nice lady from the U.S. military phones my son and asks him if he’d like a whole lot of money to help pay for his college education. He inquires about the result when the sum she offers is divided by the number of people one could be expected, on average, to kill during one’s tenure with the organization she represents. It’s a philosophical question, he explains to her. How much is a human life worth? Of course, he’s already answered this question to his own satisfaction, and of course, she never will.
I burn the draft card
I never had