This is the third part of a series loosely inspired by the structure of Simeon Berry's Ampersand Revisited. The series is titled The Completely Accurate Story Of My Real Friend Bargo Whitley.
Why does my house burning down have to mean something tragic you ask Ms. Reyland during our weekly creative writing workshop Maybe I never liked my house Maybe my mother never bought me the type of cookies I likes so I burned it down my damned self
How is that not tragic? Ms. Reyland asks Everything you've ever loved is burned away because your mother couldn't afford some oatmeal raisin cookies?
Oatmeal Raisin!?! knocking your own folder to the floor Oatmeal raisin? Oatmeal raisins aren't cookies They're a delicious mud of sugar and flour that some asshole has shoved a piece of rotten fruit in
Had anyone in class existed from the waist down until that day? Ms. Reyland had always asked us to take our seats never to sit our butts down never to park it We had all been torsos hovering over our plastic chairs Our whole lives we'd walked on our hands Nobody in that class had ever considered the smooth lumps of fat and muscle that you so callously split in half and cored in front of the whole class
Bargo Ms. Reyland said though she was looking not at you but at the ceiling that word is not allowed in this or any classroom?
What? Raisin? you asked You're the one who brought it up I don't ever want to have to use it again either
I'm reading Ampersand Revisited by Simeon Berry who is a comic book loving poet in Somerville that I have somehow never crossed paths with. As far as I know.
I suspect the book was recommended to me by Elizabeth Doran at The Grolier Poetry Book Shop.
The book is a complex narrative story told in three differently formatted poems. It didn't inspire me to use his formats or his subject matter (both of which I enjoyed) but it did remind me that there was a story I'd planned on writing earlier this year and never got around to. Unfortunately, before I could get to the story the line: "Your sister farts paste" came into my mind, and a series of short related poems sort of began to write themselves. So, here's the first part of what is tentatively called The Completely Accurate Story Of My Real Friend Bargo Whitley.
Your sister farts paste you said combing the kelp over your freshly shaved head which my parents warned me not to ask about
I don't have a sister I said checking the horseshoe crab for sand fleas
Then who is that girl you asked always hanging from your mother's waist like a short screaming third leg?
There was no girl that summer or the summer before or any summer that you and I were alive and when I asked my mother about a sister she would tell me the plots to reruns of The Brady Bunch paying particular attention to the slumber party episode where Marcia is punished for drawing a picture of her teacher as a hippopotamus though Marcia was drawing George Washington and while everything gets sorted out in the end it does seem that the whole world was out to keep Marcia from having her slumber party
I spent the next year believing that there was some sort of miscarriage and that you were like a kid in a Stephen King novel and your cancer had given you the power to see people who had already died or who were never quite born But it turned out my father didn't want any more children and none of the powers you got from chemotherapy were very special and maybe that's why you lived
An ongoing conversation between writers and the text that they're reading.