Sonia and I pulled up to the shabby duplex around 9:00 pm. The location was on a narrow road with no sidewalks in the working class suburb of Castle Shannon, also known as Andy Warhol’s old neighborhood. We parked in the driveway, making sure to lock up her Ford Escape.
I immediately took notice of the “Black Lives Matter” sign posted conveniently in front of the window. Already I was shaking my head in dismay. Here’s another example of words instead of action.
We held hands as we climbed up the stairs. Sonia had on a black dress, no panties. I however looked like a gang member, with my black shorts, wife beater, blue bandana and formidable tattoos all over my upper body.
I had Sonia do the knocking. Some so-called poet answered the door who looked awfully familiar. This sexually oppressed bastard was drooling at first sight. The perfection of my girlfriend’s body is in fact, a work of art. He was quick to let us in, then came the interrogation.
“Hey, I’m Ken. So who are you guys, who invited you?”
I was thinking how all this hard work, and significant writing in the small press throughout the years has amounted to nothing. I’m still a nobody.
“I’m Mario, and this my girlfriend Sonia. I received an invite from Jeremy, king of the small press.”
He began playing with his hipster beard, lost in thought. After a few seconds he said, “Sorry, but that doesn’t ring a bell.”
I was beginning to lose my patience, plus, I had forgotten to take my afternoon medication. Volatility was in the air.
My hands began to shake, so I wrapped my arm around Sonia, grabbing her ass like it was Xanax. She jumped, slightly, and said to the interrogator,
“I don’t who the fuck you think you are, but you better give my Mario the dignity he deserves. I read all the small press literary magazines. It’s a rarity for Mario’s poetry not to be inked up all over the pages. I demand to speak to Jeremy, now!”
Ken, the poet who writes from the depths of his vagina, as I recalled was taken aback by Sonia’s onslaught. He began to nervously play with his beard, mumbling words as his face turned red. That’s when I told him,
“Dude, I wasn’t going to say anything before, but now since you’ve gone out of your way to bust my balls I’m gonna say it. You write like a fucking woman. I don’t know how you take such feminine lines out of your vagina, and incorporate them into poetry, but for fuck sake, man, how many fingers does it take?”
He started to stutter, tears swelling up in his eyes, as he dug his shaky hands inside his pockets.
Sonia with a smile on her face said, “That must be some vagina you have there Kenny.”
A smirk appeared on my face. Before I could continue speaking with the candor all other alleged poets never had, he took off to the back of the house, whimpering. Next thing I know Jeremy, king of the small press came over to greet us with open arms.
Finally, we could get this pretentious party started.
I held Sonia close as we made our rounds throughout the two bedroom house of bad writing. Everywhere I turned, there was a poet reciting his lousy poetry. It felt like the closest thing to purgatory.
Reading this garbage that miraculously appeared in the same magazines as mine is one thing, I could always turn the page. But here in this fucking house, it’s forced upon you like some sick sadist getting his kicks. It was a mutual feelings between Sonia and I. She whispered in my ear,
“Kill me now, and get it over with.”
I told her not until a final fuck, as I grabbed her by the hips, and directed her towards the stairs.
Two poets were in our way reading their poetry back and forth, giving each other high-fives. I told those charlatans, “Get out the way or be pissed on! You’re prohibiting our path!”
They apologized, then made their way down the stairs with their heads down. Some poets are as fragile as young insecure girls. Pitiful.
I turned the slimy doorknob, and pushed Sonia inside the bathroom. Gross, I thought. One of these lonely poets probably jerked off a few minutes ago before we made our entry.
I looked around, there it was, right on the sink: a universal size bottle of hand lotion. This bachelor pad had no secrets left to keep.
Sonia grabbed for my cock, as she stuck her moist tongue down my throat.
I had my hands on her tight little ass, moving them up the sexy curves of her back, and with it the dress that was getting in the way. I grabbed her by the hair once the dress was removed, and bent her over the sink.
Sonia at that point said, “This place is disgusting, there’s dental floss particles all over the mirror.” I apologized for putting her through this demeaning headache of fame by inserting my poetic penis inside her passionate vagina, no condom.
We were making a ruckus. Masculine hygiene products were falling off shelves. Sonia was screaming out like I was fucking her with a knife. It was the best sex we’ve had in a week. Having an orgasm was a different story. All the lonely male poets congregated upstairs next to the bathroom, reciting their awful poetry. I heard a high-five every other time I smacked her delectable ass. When I finally did bust a nut, I screamed out in ecstasy.
That only elevated the volume of poetry being recited outside the door. These desperate poets were not only creepy and pathetic, but also insistent! My orgasm was all over the place. We left it there like it was someone else’s problem.
The minute we walked out of the bathroom we were bombarded by poets giving out their credentials, asking us if we’d like to hear one of their poems.
Now all a sudden I’m popular. Sonia was rolling her eyes when I told those creepy bastards to fuck off. We made our way to the kitchen after that, in search of bourbon.
Jeremy, king of the small press was pouring drinks upon our arrival. He spotted Sonia and said, “You looking for this?”
Sonia took the bottle out of his hands saying, “Yeah, thanks,” as she walked back towards me.
We both took giant gulps like it was the antidote to a dismal party neither one of us wanted to attend. Jeremy began to recite his poetry to us. The apathetic look on my face did nothing to deter him. Sonia called him a sadist. We attempted to leave the room in a hurry.
Jeremy grabbed my arm before we could make our escape and said, “Mario, I really dig your poetry, man. It’s hard hitting, you never pull a punch.”
I told him, “Thanks. Yeah nobody else has the balls to do it. All the shit getting published anymore is benign poetry. It’s like they’re writing it with a condom over a pen. I don’t get it, man. Most of it is just mundane thoughts orchestrated into a few stanzas, then labeled as art. These assholes are destroying the art form.”
“I know what you mean,” replied Jeremy, king of the small press.
If he knew what I meant, then why is he doing the exact thing I’m condemning? People are so full of shit. Poets are not excluded.
Sonia was grabbing me by the other arm saying, “Come on, Mario. Let’s find a quiet place to drink this.”
I poked my head through the doorway, at the repulsive sight, of all these emotional men who were incapable of not showing off how legendary they thought their writing was. I began to laugh. This may have been the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever involved myself in.
Jeremy still had a grip on my arm. He told me to meet him upstairs in a few minutes. The entire small press scene (all twenty-five of us) were going to smoke some primo DMT, then take turns reciting our so-called best poetry to date. I nodded my head in unison with the migraine that was kicking in, then made my way through the house with Sonia.
Once we entered the living room, (I thought it was a miracle) people actually stopped reciting poetry. Instead they flocked to us.
Yet again, it was credential time. We had to sit through several poets telling us how many times they’ve been published, and where at, exactly.
When it was my turn to speak they looked puzzled. Everyone of these fucking bastards said they’ve never heard of me. I took the bottle off Sonia and drank about a pint in three gulps. Words like discouraged and disenchanted weren’t strong enough adjectives to express the way I felt in that particular moment. My trump card was, and still is, my hot ass girlfriend. I wouldn’t doubt the possibility of these alleged wordsmiths jerking off to the memory of her.
After the blow to my ego, we went out to the backyard, taking turns on the bottle. Only two poets were out there exchanging poetic feelings. It was turning out to be a night of bad writing, back scratching and colossal disappointment. At least on my end.
Sonia said, “For fuck sake, Mario, these are your people? You’re a part of this?”
I was nervously scratching my head, saying “I had no idea it was going to turn out like this. An old wino once told me to never judge someone by their Facebook profile.”
Sonia turned around towards the noisy poets and said, “We came out here to be away from the poetry. Could you keep it down?”
The skinny poet with a ’90s style ponytail fired back, “What, don’t you like my writing? This is one of my best poems, ever! I’ve been voted best of the net! What do you do?”
I casually walked over, snatched the piece of paper from his hands, and proceeded to rip it up into small pieces.
He screamed out, “What the fuck are you doing man? Stop! I made that poem, me! I did that!”
I tossed all the pieces on the ground, rolled my eyes, and said “Bullshit writing like that is the reason why more people have knitted a basket in the past decade, than read a piece of poetry. Those sycophants on Facebook deceived you.”
Tears were falling from his eyes like bombs over Dresden. I didn’t feel the least bit sorry. I felt righteous.
“Who the fuck are you, asshole?” screamed the talentless poet.
“I’m Mario!” I told him. “My poetry has propagated the small press like chlamydia in Beechview.”
“I’ve read your shit before, man!” said the grown man with tears running down his face. “You’re nothing but a disgruntled pervert! That’s what we all call you in the small press scene, asshole! Nobody likes your fucking writing! Nobody!”
Sonia stuck her hand down my pants and said, “He’s the best writer alive, you little shit. That’s why he gets all this good pussy.”
“Fuck this shit!” screamed the man who was an emotional wreck. “I’m telling Jeremy, king of the small press about your asshole tactics!”
“Yeah, go ahead and run off,” I said, “before I catch another felony!”
The other poet tagged along with him, sniffling the entire time, going out of his way to suppress his tears. We were finally alone, but already out of time. I looked up when the bedroom light switched on, and remembered the DMT party that was going to take place within mere minutes. It was a new life experience neither one of us wanted to miss out on.
We made it to the bedroom in the nick of time. Jeremy gave us an introduction. Obviously, we needed it.
“Poets of the small press, I’d like to thank you for showing up to this special event. First off, for those of you who are not acquainted with our two guests right here, allow me to make an introduction.
“This man before you is Mario. His work is prevalent in our scene. If you haven’t read the man’s work yet, do yourself a favor by checking him out. The lovely lady next to him is his girlfriend, Sonia.
“Please, both of you have a seat in our circle so I can continue the monologue. But before I do, I’d like Adam to take the first hit of DMT, then pass it around counterclockwise.”
I’ll never forget the pungent smell of that world altering drug. It was a smell hard to describe, but as distinct as crack. You’d know it if you’ve smelled it.
“Poets,” said Jeremy, “we have the power to change the world through our writing, for the betterment of mankind. Reformation is within our grasp. Anything is possible through the power of poetry!”
Both Sonia and I began to laugh profusely. We haven’t even had a chance yet to try the DMT. All the stink eyes were on us, and we couldn’t of cared less.
Rhetoric at the end of the day is merely talk. We know the only thing cheaper than talk is poetry. No need for delusions.
The monologue, just like the poetry, would not let up. I tried my hardest to get a Manic Mike & The Mood Stabilizers song playing inside my head. Actually anything besides the horse shit that was cascading out of Jeremy’s mouth would’ve sufficed at that point.
This asshole should’ve been institutionalized for his delusional train of thought. Judging by the mesmerized looks upon the rest of the crowd though, I believe it’s safe to say they disagreed with my notion.
The pipe came around to Sonia who took three huge hits instead of one. It must be the tits, man. Nobody said a word about it.
She passed me the pipe. I followed her bad example. Fuck, it tasted like expired resin. Nobody spoke out against my inability to follow the rules either.
I remember the entire room turning into a living, breathing cartoon. It was like the part of the acid trip where you peak, only a hundred times stronger. I was really enjoying myself for a minute until the poetry started up again.
My peaceful hallucinations crossed over to the dark side. The room turned red, I was at the beginning stages of a freak out. Red rum, I thought. Red rum. My DMT trip had turned into a Stephen King movie.
Sonia grabbed my arm, full-force, digging her manicured nails into my flesh, tearing the skin. The desperation in her eyes screamed, “HELP!”
We ran out of that red room, trembling like toddlers who just watched Child’s Play for the first time.
Sonia screamed out, “Those are not your people, Mario. They’re evil, deviants of the small press with big sinister ideas! They must be stopped!”
Her pupils were bigger than the moon. Her words were devastating to my soul. I was already freaked out by the intensity of this drug. Add a night of bad writing into the mix, and there’s no turning back.
“Something has to be done, Mario! They’ll destroy Pittsburgh, if not, the entire world!”
When she wasn’t freaking out all I heard in my head was “RED RUM! RED RUM!”
I grabbed her by the shoulders and said the words, “I DON’T WANT TO DIE!”
She reached inside her purse, digging around until she found a bottle of mace.
“What the fuck are you planning on doing with that?” I asked as my DMT trip continued to make a turn for the worst. The hallway was now breathing like an exhausted marathon runner. Claustrophobia was setting in. Thoughts of Xanax flooded my mind, but my mother’s medicine cabinet was zip codes away.
“Heal the world by destroying the mediocrity that plagues it!” proclaimed Sonia.
She boldly approached the door, as I stayed put like a coward, unable to progress, praying for the first time in years to a God that let us eat whatever the fuck we wanted.
The poetic words from inside, if you want to call them that, quickly turned to screams of death as she emptied the tiny bottle of mace in the small bedroom, occupied by poets of the small press.
After that she took me by my hand, leading me through the house of pretentious poets, towards the driveway where her Ford Escape was parked. We drove off like survivors, watching the trails of city lights, not saying a single word.
I put on the Sinatra album instead, letting old blue eyes break the silence as he sang the song, Softly As I Leave You.