Thursday, March 31, 2016

Poetic Influences -- Jeffrey McDaniel

Jeffrey McDaniel has been a big influence on my writing.  In fact, it was a performance by him that got me re-started with writing and publishing poetry.  I went to an "all-star poetry slam" with all star poets competing with youth slammers at a bookstore in D.C.  I don't remember what I heard there, but McDaniel's manner and work had a big effect on me.  Purchasing his book, "The Splinter Factory," I came across a voice that was real, contemporary, and funny.  It made me feel I could do this, too, if not anywhere close to McDaniel's level.  So I thank McDaniel for inspiring me, and share with you a poem of his from the Poetry Foundation's web site.

The Quiet World

By Jeffrey McDaniel
In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred   
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear   
without saying hello. In the restaurant   
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long distance lover,   
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.   
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,   
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line   
and listen to each other breathe.

Source: The Forgiveness Parade (Manic D Press, 1998)

Buy The Art of Dissolving

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