(With apologies to Edgar Allan Poe)by Stoney Emshwiller
ONCE upon a morning dusty, my L.A. eyes half-closed and crusty,
I trudged to see what kind of mail my little Imac had in store.
While I booted, nostrils dripping, suddenly there came a ripping
as of someone roughly slipping, slipping mail through slotted door.
''An e-mail postman,'' I conjectured, ''Shoving e-mail through my door
only this and nothing more.''
''Strange'' I thought, wiping my face, ''my iMac's always known its place.
It knows that warping time and space is one conceit I most abhor.''
As my finger muscles knotted, by the iMac's keys I squatted.
''Perchance a coupon's been allotted, for items from an on-line store.
Or maybe it's a confirmation 'bout some purchase bought before,
or Dick Enlarger ads galore.''
Presently my heart grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
I took a breath and held it as my toenails tapped against the floor.
With no small sense of trepidation, and perhaps anticipation,
I double-clicked an invitation, from a guy I just adore.
A New York City invitation shoved right through my e-mail door
a virtual shove and nothing more.
There'd been no need to get all twitchy: this invite was from my pal Richie,
asking me in words not bitchy to a place with fun galore.
A place downtown: a rhyming party, a joint where we could drink up hearty,
and nosh until our bowels got farty, to demonstrate esprit de corps
We'd celebrate the fact his websight kept on kicking one year more,
At the Bowery what a score!
Rich, you see, was well aware that I'd be traveling by air
to New York with my Lady Fair. He asked for a specific chore:
He deemed it would be hunky-dory more than that: obligatory
that every poet read a story, and this he thrice did underscore.
Every single party-er would face the mike and take the floor
to read one poem: nothing more.
Suddenly I felt a chill, as I reread this codiçil.
Was it his way, was it his will, that each friend coming in that door
should truly read some verse aloud, on any subject they'd explore?
I wondered, troubled and annoyed, just how might I this task avoid?
It plagued me like a hemorrhoid this silly, supercilious chore.
I felt that I could take no more.
True, I've treasured Rich for years; as we survived our first careers,
and shared the blood and sweat and tears of fighting in the Porn Rag war.
But did that give the man the right to make me suffer through the night
and risk the plight of bad stage fright like some red-cape-less matador?
So I must read before the class like a lugubrious sophomore?
''Just one poem, nothing more!''
What kind of poem of what style? A thing of sweetness or of bile?
A thing designed to coax a smile, or nauseate with blood and gore?
Poem I wrote? Poem I found? A children's poem well renowned?
A literary tale profound? Perhaps the poem of a whore,
performed without the use of words: presented, nude, in semaphore!
That should make them beg for more!
What on Earth was I to do? Me-thought I'd have to feign a flu,
or say my plane had thrown a screw and flew the skyways nevermore.
''Ah Crap!'' I shouted. ''Crappity-crap! I'd like to give that Rich a slap!
I s'pose he thinks it's just a snap to come up with a bit of lore
Jiving out a bad-ass rap as if a modern troubadour?
Or worse: like a neurotic bore!
I quicky pushed the key ''delete,'' shut off the iMac, hit the street,
but this did nothing for the heat the heat now seething in my core.
I needed peace, a sweet release, this torture simply had to cease,
and yet it seemed to just increase and drove me to my airplane's door.
Yes, pain itself now egged me, begged me, pegged me with its vicious roar.
as through the friendly skies I soared.
When I deplaned in lands much hipper, I sped to Brooklyn streets quite chipper.
In bathrobe and my bunny slippers I suppose I should have changed before.
Still the force of pain compelled me, guided and indeed propelled me
and it very nearly felled me 'til it stopped me at a door.
'Twas then I knew why I was there: to even up the score.
Only this and nothing more.
In the shade of Brooklyn trees, I picked young Richard's door with ease,
and swung it open like a breeze, to hear within a gentle snore.
Sneaking, freaking, floor boards creaking, I crept inside, my armpits reeking,
So intent on havoc wreaking was I as I crossed the floor.
I barely breathed a breath at all while opening the bedroom door.
A sleeping figure, nothing more.
I found a volume near the bed, and raised it high above my head
a heavier book you've never read it weighed the weight at least of four.
I slammed this book of poems down and struck poor Richie on his crown.
As crimson stained his dressing gown, I heard my own voice roar:
''You want a poem? Here's your poem! Ask for one no more!''
No more poems were in store.
After this I felt all dizzy went into a trembling tizzy
and my bladder took a wizzy as I wondered ''What's in store?''
Here I'd killed the nicest chappy, one who'd always made me happy,
acted swell and dressed real snappy, and now his blood did pour,
all because a poem-reading invite got me sore.
A simple invite, nothing more.
And still I came, and came on time, to read my poem: asinine,
for was it really such a crime, to kill that man who spoke before?
Holy crap! The man's alive! I never thought he could survive!
How could the EMS revive a man I'd bludgeoned to the floor?
Perhaps instead of hitting him I'd hit his latest paramour.
My God I just killed Demi Moore!