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
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.