HOTSHOT POET                             
OK, so you're not any hotshot poet,
Just some female stupid not-even artist
A sneer on some guy's face, or look-away,
Who sees you makin' nothin' but saucer-eyed children
With tears big as horse turds poised on their rosy cheeks,
Dutch boy statuettes in some low-class woman's hutch --
And you know it too.

Just some wannabe country girl
Hardly off the farm,
Thinkin' the Kickapoo...

No --
Knowin' the Kickapoo like a native knows the Amazon,
Muddy an' full of deadly whirlpools an' snags an' water snakes,
Something to throw a fluorescent tube down like your feelings or your poetry,
Let it be washed to the sea,
Or more likely onto a sandbar and broken to smithereens
To make somebody a never-healing wound
Right down there on the Wisconsin.
Doltish thing to do
Think you can get rid of a dangerous thing
By throwing it into a river
Even though your mother said to

No --
Knowin' the Kickapoo
As your river,
No way like those canoein' city folks do
Who think it's a place to recreate,
Who think the Wisconsin is the nude beach at Mazo
All beautiful luscious brown flesh baking on the anvil of the sun.
They didn't know anyone who died here
Or the anyones who swam that idyllic, disingenuous, delusory spot
Fifty miles downstream for thirty years without mishap
And still died there.
They didn't scream at the helicopters buzzin' the water like wasps
When you wanted it to be quiet and everybody just to GO HOME,
Let you have your river and your picnic
In peace.

So here you are
Out in a goddamn rat's nest of suburban garage sales
Lookin' for a bargain thrill like an amateur in a slam,
Pickin' up everything twice, three times.
Pondering its lines,
Tryin' to keep from smothering under other people's well-loved junk and castoffs,
Their staccato of words, stilletto-heeled images, their brilliantly-honed brains.
Hopin' somebody out there can feel your pulse
Really feel it like brushing against barbed wire hooked to a charger
Turned on high enough to get through any thick bull's skin and hair,
Like brushing against nettles with the 90-year-old parchment
Baby-naked back of your hand or cheek,
Or blackberry brambles that won't let go,
That rip your flesh like so much gossamer gauze.
You bear the scars.
Like fleabites, they throb for weeks.

No -- more like
Hoping you don't die like those endless raccoons on the road
With their masked faces still masked,
Lone Rangers without their Tontos,
Lady Godiva in only her hair,
Crisp Granny Smith apples turned to stone,
Gray, gritty, dusty, and gone.

No --
But you ain't no poetess either.
Knocked your father off his chair,
Really and literally onto his ass,
And you only 13 or so
For insisting a woman poet had to be a poetess.
Poetess, my ass,
No poetess would do that.

Nevertheless --
You ain't no hotshot poet neither.
Put that in your smoky pipe and smoke it!

Mary Mullen
9/5/95, revised 9/9/95, 10/20/95

Written after a night at Cheap at Any Price at the Chamber
where I could've been reading to a wall.