Scantily Clad Press, 2009
for Rhonda - who is in all my poems
All my poems start right in yelling big, & hitting people in the face & then they get kicked out of the bar & have to walk the lonely nighttime street by their lonely lonesome selves feeling very contrite the whole time, anticipating the next time & how much better they will be.
All my poems start with purple flowers in a yellow vase which is derivative of de Kooning â€“ it really is â€“ which is why immediately after my poems start they start again, apologizing &, like, sincerely asking your indulgence because, like, itâ€™s hard being so immersed in something & then still being your own something at the same time & then, suddenly, inexplicably, my own poems start in again, just like that, & this time they start up in a way that is just, like, the total opposite of purple flowers in a yellow vase & all the people kind of sigh & are all like, yeah, as if that proves anything.
All my poems start looking up, mouths open, rain falling in <drip, drip, drip> or else it is too cold for rain, because these are Northern poems, so it is snow that lands steaming on the tongue & thatâ€™s it, nothing else, my poems starting off like that & staying just like that as the streetlights click on & all the other poems get called home.
All my poems start five seconds before you get there & every time you find a chair to sit down in, you blink & find a bird or an elephant or something in place of the chair, & really all you wanted to do was to talk seriously to my poem, across a table, over coffee; outside it is 1:30 pm & you had one or maybe two things you really needed to explain to my poem & now the afternoon of explaining things has passed & the sun moves across the window which means the sun moves across the sky which means night is coming on & poems never listen to what anybody has to say at night.
All my poems start five seconds before they get there so the whole thing is one long explanation or reaction or retraction or scramble or something that is definitely not aesthetically pleasing or challenging as they try to let you know what it was that delayed them, whatever hurt them so bad that they canâ€™t stop talking about it.
All my poems start at 5:15 am on a Monday & they stop some time around 11:30 pm on a Wednesday evening which makes them longer than they are comfortable with so all my poems try some kind of artificial means of shortening themselves but the problem with this is that they forget themselves & so they all have this thing at the end that people just never get, because all the build-up has been deleted, so youâ€™re reading along in all my poems & are thinking something like yeah this is getting going & then suddenly itâ€™s something like as the blazing sun dips casually toward morning.
All my poems start with the line “You’re a real winner” & sometimes the poem means what it says & sometimes the poem doesn’t mean what it says.
All my poems start on February 1st, on a boat headed to Antigua & they’ve all just eaten, they’re stuffed & they’re all looking for a good time, these poems, they’re up for anything, though this is only what they say to the other poems on the boat with them because what they really want is to go back to their cabin & just feel the ship rock & rock because these poems are mostly unconcerned with where they are going (they are surprised to be going anywhere!) & they hope to never get there.
All my poems start slowly, walking down long hallways; you hear their shoes clicking & then the clicking speeds up & my poems get a little closer & you keep waiting, wanting to see it walk right by your open door but it never passes by.
All my poems start with a scorchingly heavy riff, YEAH!, because they are hellbent on ROCKING OUT! & eventually they reconcile that their love & rage boil down to just four or five words.
All my poems start by ringing bells & knocking skulls &, no, they don’t stop until the break of dawn & even then they don’t stop, tick-tock, they drink some coffee maybe & they keep going; they drive to Denny’s with whoever is up for it & they order three separate meals, breakfast, lunch & dinner, & those poems eat a little from each plate because these poems live a whole day in, like, thirty seconds, man, & these poems call your girlfriend right in front of you & when she answers the phone these poems say “Hey ba-beee…” right into the phone they borrowed from you.
All my poems start whining when they have to stay inside even if it is for a damn good reason.
All my poems start as if they are the only poem out there & if they wanted to they would just go on & on forever & then they realize somethingâ€” who knows what?â€”& then they stop right there.
Notes A list of things that contributed to the series [All My Poems] : my Introduction to Poetry class, Fall 2006: Lora, Blade, Andi & Claire. : Larry Fagin’s THE LIST POEM. : Gina Myers sending me Larry Fagin’s THE LIST POEM. : persistent anxiety that all my poems, if left to their own devices, start the same way. : my inability to write a “real” list poem / my desire to write a “real” list poem. : the second floor reading room at the Northwestern State University library where I met my Introduction to Poetry class every Monday & Wednesday. Windows & couches. : Reb Livingston, Molly Arden & all others at No Tell for publishing some of these. : Andrew Lundwall, almost three years later.
Nate Pritts :is the author of two books of poetry â€“ Sensational Spectacular (BlazeVOX, 2007) & Honorary Astronaut (Ghost Road Press, 2008). : has published several chapbooks such as Shrug (Main Street Rag, 2007) & all the pieces to his collage Shepherdâ€™s Calendar The Wonderful Yeare, most recently Spring Psalter (Cannibal, 2008) & Endless Summer (PubGen, 2008). : founded & edits H_NGM_N. : writes criticism & reviews for Rain Taxi, Jacket, Octopus & others. : has a collaborative book with painter Keith Gamache forthcoming from Cinamatheque Press. : teaches gifted English, Creative Writing & Film at Bolton High School. : lives in Louisiana with his family.