the poet

On Sunday, I had breakfast with a poet. A real poet. He didn’t have breakfast with me because he’d had some “Irish soda bread” at home on his horse farm before our late morning meeting.

Real poets have Irish soda bread on their kitchen counters on their horse farms.

Last time I met the poet in this place, I helped him set up a Facebook page. Now, his canonical status updates read like a taunt.

In this order: Up at five but it felt like four. Iced hooves. Thought about meditation. Thought better. Remembered Ackerman (Come to Bed Jack), her eyes. Listened to Mundy, Garbage, R. Head. Reread Paul Hostovsky’s “A Little in Love a Lot” for the twentieth time. Found something I’d missed.

My update: Beer is fucking delicious. Beer is like crack. Fucking crack.

Nearly every poem he writes punches me in the gut. Across the table, the poet tosses me three pages. On the first is a poem about shooting a raccoon and putting up Christmas decorations. It is so perfect that I need to find a quiet place to both punish and forgive myself.

Sometimes I punch back. And sometimes, the poet flinches. Last week, I sent him two new pieces—one the lushest, most violent, aching, throbbing poem. He sent them back from South Bumfuck. In an envelope. With stamps. Like only poets and poetry-loving husbands do. I ran to the mailbox each day like a puppy, and when I couldn’t take it anymore, I begged him to send his comments by email so I could set my poem free.

That day, the longhand-edited pieced arrived—with an entirely different critique. He told me on the better page: “This one is a great poem.” It’s covered in cursive and printing, three different colors and weights of ink: a fine-point black pen; a medium-point black pen; and a cyan marker, which is his commentary.

In one week, the poet will turn 50. He’ll go out to dinner with his wife. They’ll talk about horses and poetry and wine. When it’s my turn, six months from now, I will scratch 50 until it bleeds. And I will drink the delicious crack of Resurrection. I will wake up the next day and be exactly the same, but I will pretend that it made all the difference in the world.

The list of things to do between now and the next rotation around the sun grows: publish another book of poems (the first one’s due out in May), form a band that plays originals and wholly original covers, travel somewhere by myself, go to Barcelona to see the mosaics.

The poet has lived in Barcelona and describes standing in Picasso’s house like only a poet can describe it.

And because I, too, am a poet, I am, in that moment, there.

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