Evening event. I’m expecting adults,
not six squirming kids. The poems
I’ve selected won’t work—long-winded one
that winds down the page, another
with foreign names, others about degenerate
relatives, death, lost loves, or kids locked
in closets. I scuttle my list, flip through pages
for poems about a good witch who cared for
sick animals, my granddaughter eyeing
a monster at Octoberfest, my son making pasta.
I glance at my watch, then a nine-year-old kid
pipes up, When’s it my turn?
Now, I say, as the librarian scurries off
to find him a book of poems about basketball.
The kid grabs the mic with one hand,
the book with other and begins to sight read
like a pro. I’m content to let him read
the whole book, but after the four poems,
he takes a bow, grins, and struts back to his seat,
a hearty round of applause, he’s the star
of the show. At his age, I was a klutz.
My piano recital—I forgot how to end
Für Elise, until a disembodied arm reaches
through the curtain, yanks me off the stage.
Or in a kid’s production of Sleeping Beauty,
as the old watchman, I forgot my two lines
—Who are you? What do you want?
Now I’ve been outdone by this kid,
who probably spends hours rapping
with a plastic microphone, driving his family
half-crazy, so a real mic’s not strange,
or the spunk in his voice, and I remember
that old adage—Never share the stage
with children or animals.
From Detours & Diversions (Main Street Rag, 2011).
Used here with the author’s permission.