Strange to sit in a room
brimming with writers
arranged by two rows
of chairs in an arc —
so foreign to the act:
where we all sit alone
with pen and paper
in a crowded waiting room
or a restaurant or bus
or cell; or with keyboard
and monitor in a corner —
we are always alone.

But here writers range
focused on the stark podium
from which will issue
these are my words
I stake my being on
these words;
I live or die here.

I pour my brain
into the pool of light:
there in the plate with
my head and heart;
I wait for the chattering
in my knees to stop
I strip the final fabric
out of my mask
and bare raw bone.
Hail, Caesar!
We who are about to read
Salute You!
I begin to move my lips:
each utterance is
wrong, fails to sound
remotely familiar —
who wrote this crap?

It is over
the emperor’s thumb hides
in the folds of his sleeve.

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About riverwriter

Poet, playwright, duplicate bridge player, website designer, cottager, husband, father, grandfather, former athlete, carpenter, computer helper for my friends, theatre designer, backstage polymath, retired teacher of highschool English, drama, art, a baritone singer in a barbershop quartet, who knows what else? wordcurrents is on Facebook: Doug also has a Facebook page, "Incognitio", related to his novels.
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2 Responses to Arena

  1. Rosemarie Collins says:

    Ain’t it the truth? Love the title! Writers are indeed there awaiting a thumbs up from the emperor (the reader); thumbs down sends us to the lions who love to gobble us and our words up (the critics?). I truly think this is one of your better poems. Thanks.


    • riverwriter says:

      Thanks, Rosemarie: coming from a writer of your output, high praise; I know you have been there. The idea came from my experience attending a writers’ society meeting Monday evening: just about everyone read something; many of them were visibly nervous. I really like reading to an audience, so my nerves were minimal, but I knew what they were feeling just the same. I think I am more nervous sending my work out, but that is just me.

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