The following series of quasi-poems, beginning with “Where’s the Rhino?,” was written in the mid-1990s when I was the shopkeeper of Chapters Revisited, a bookstore in Doylestown, Pa. I wrote this group of loosely cohesive poems on an unusually grey and quiet day as I looked out the store window waiting for customers to enter. Brace yourself for silliness, dreariness and inept descriptions of ominous strangers.
By the way, back then (last century, after all), some writers (especially this writer and bad, languid poets in general who lacked patience and diligence) didn’t resort to Google to find vital, colorful facts to add a layer of brilliance or sheen to their work. Instead, we relied mostly, if not solely, on our empty noggins and lousy imaginations, unable to instantly call up a more fitting description for a hat, say, or a more visual anecdote of that great big closet in the sky. Basically, back in the day, we just watched movies, wrote feebly and carried on.
I almost question why I write—
In fact, I just did this morning.
This poem is to be a bout…
About the reason humans write.
I don’t call this writing, though.
This punching keys like a stenographer
But the ideas are original, you say.
Without ideas words cease,
Unless of course
You watch daytime talk shows—
And you witness the madness secondhand
And cross yourself with filtered water
In the first person.
I’ve yet to write an original thought.
Let’s see—I know that no matter what
A live rhinoceros will not appear before my eyes in the next five minutes.
Has anyone ever written that sentence before? (I’m sure this one’s been written.)
Now if God were to prove me wrong and a live rhinoceros appeared before my eyes,
I would claim that I am not sure of anything. Anything at all in this muck of a universe.
But because a rhinoceros has yet to appear
Before my eyes
I am sure—positive—
That there are things to be sure of.
I have a birth certificate with my name on it and it tells me the place and date I was delivered.
I don’t know exactly the moment I was conceived.
No, not now while you are reading them. That’s impossible.
Therefore I am
Going to show you why I write.
Perhaps I better not show you—it may take some time to draw a man with a noose
And they may commit me after seeing how poorly I draw.
I write because I need to express
Life is why I write.
Death is why I write.
The space between is why I sleep, eat and shit.
(I promise to be vulgar only when necessary.)
You are not why I write. You are why I itch.
You are why I strive to be me.
You are why
This page has ended—
Let us go in pieces—
And understand little of what has been said
And not written.