A Poetry Sporadical of Repeating Forms

Ballade of the Danged

by Mark Blaeuer

Before you quit your dream of the guitar,
you almost learned a chord. You don’t recall
which. Hormones were abducting you to far
and fateful territory: basketball.
Your dad erected goal and netting—tall
at five feet skyward of your height-to-be.
Coach uttered “You were cut,” in study hall.
The words you spoke were hardly poetry.

So upward/onward, and your registrar
at college had advice: “Well, freshmen all
take Freshman Comp.” That’s English-in-a-jar
to kids whose innards ached for alcohol
the frat boys vomited near keggers. Paul
McCartney died that year, supposedly,
and you were a campus DJ yet that fall.
The shtick you chose was hard on poetry

played backwards on KWLR.
They fired you. “We walk before we crawl,”
somebody said, so you bought a used car
and drove, in debt resplendent, to a mall,
where stag-juiced idiots worked up the gall
to proposition teens. You were just three
on a ten-scale, out for a perfect doll.
Your pick-up lines were hardly poetry.

Prints earned you a jumpsuit and a block wall
(a nolo contendere was your plea).
Thursday a writer visits: you’re in thrall.
The lines you pen are hard-won poetry.

Mark Blaeuer lives in Arkansas. His poems and translations have appeared in a variety of literary journals. His work is not entirely autobiographical.


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