I’m Not Interested in Your Poetry

Yesterday a friend of mine told me he wasn’t going to

read my poetry, because he wasn’t interested in it,

but that he was happy for me that I was.

Disregarding the fact that I devoted my life to it,

and pursued a terminal degree in it that for years has cost me

more than I can summarize, I told him that’s okay,

that friends don’t have to like everything about each other

in order to be friends, in order to be family,

and I think I’m right.

I mean, did my father stop loving me because

I lit the kitchen counter on fire and made a basketball-size

hole in it when I was 6 and wanted to see

how powerful his lighter could be?

And what about the time in high school I urinated

down the chimney in a friend’s attic

beside said friend who was urinating alongside me?

Did he unfriend me?

Then there was the time in elementary school

I was asked by my friends to beat up a new kid

on the block as some initiatory rite of passage,

and a couple of days afterward we were hugging

each other like brothers training to slay an evil

parent warlord.

It was only a couple of weeks ago a friend asked me

if I’d go out to the bar with some other friends of his

and I told him no thank you, because going out

and socializing and being around people in public

just really wasn’t my thing,

so, can I blame anyone for not liking my poetry

or not wanting to read it?

And besides, I’d rather my friend tell me my poetry

is something they can’t stand the taste of,

but decide to take one bite of once in a while

because it’s the polite thing, because they love me,

then pretend to like it and end up resenting me for it.

But I still worry about their not liking what I most

care about, and what that might mean.

In so many words, I tell him most things come down

to a matter of taste anyway, because not everything has to

taste good all the time for life to be good, because imagine

if we were all the same and so on, and he agrees.

And I think there’s a way I can allow this disappointment

to inform my writing so that I can deepen my relatability

with my non-poetry reading audience, ultimately, I tell myself.

But then I allow for a moment of silence just to see

if I buy my own point of view, and I’m pretty sure I do.

I ask him if he remembers the time we went hiking

and almost abandoned each other when we had different ideas

about what needed to happen first once we found camp,

but how by the next morning we were both apologizing

for being stupid and became better friends because of it,

and he says oh yes.

In fact, I think if we hadn’t been on each other like that

and afterward realized the importance of forgiveness,

I’m not sure we’d still be friends, and I’m not sure

I would have become this poet you don’t like to read.

Author: Chris Russell

Chris Russell holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Concord, New Hampshire where he follows two paths: a calling as a poet, and an altruistic vocation as an education support professional.