and other drivel...
Reflections on a Misspent Youth, by an Unrepentant Potter
Somewhere along about my tenth year as a potter I found myself writing poems. I think I was more surprised by this development than anyone else. I had never paid any attention to poetry before, wasn't in the habit of reading poetry, and certainly never wrote any.
My usually placid life was in flux at the time (divorce, and all that) which brought change, introspection, and emotional upheaval. At least that is what I blame for this eruption of poetry.
Suddenly the poems flowed. Most were personal, but scattered among them were a few gems about my life as a potter. OK, so maybe they aren't gems, but they do seem to express thoughts and feelings that resonate with many other artists and craftspeople.
Most of these poems were written at fairs. Some were labored over (Foothill Follies), some just poured out as if my hand were a scribe for the poetry muse (Slow Show Blues), and at least one (Reveille) was written as I was driving - no small feat - to a fair.
Poems continued to just come to me for about four years. Then suddenly they stopped. I even have half-done poems that I do not seem to be able to finish. I have no explanation for this poetry period, but it's gone, apparently never to return. A lot of time has now passed with no sign of a poem.
So here they are; I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them (even if I didn't always enjoy experiencing the events they describe).
Although many of these poems about the struggles of selling ones work at craft fairs are a bit negative, I've always felt good about doing the shows. The warm and wonderful aspects of this life far outweigh its struggles. "Reveille" is my theme.
I'm still "doing shows" and seem to have taken my own advice ("choose more carefully") - my shows are good these days.
PS - You may copy, forward, etc. anything you wish, but please give me the attribution.
R E V E I L L E
An' ready to show.
I'm rarin' to go
Goodbye to the boredom,
dull staring at walls.
Now I am Faire-bound,
off to the Malls.
Ol' Bertha is flying
past princes and prole's.
Filled to the sunroof
with pitchers and bowls.
So scatter before me
you freeway turtles.
I am a Red Streak,
Friends and Fortune
Bright lights, warm smiles,
and plenty of bread.
I come once again
to hear the praise,
Puffs, and purchases
for three or four days.
Unless, of course
the show's for the birds,
And all that attend
are lookers and nerds.
But it's my life
this "Doing the shows."
How I survive it,
"Hope springs eternal"'
so optimists say.
I guess I agree,
I welcome today.
speed ' sound.
REAL COOL ARTIST
I know it's up there somewhere
'cause I can see it up the street.
Shining on somebody else,
warm and bright from head to feet.
But here I sit cold and dark,
shivering and shaking.
Just a real cool artist-type.
An ice cube in the making.
Down in these concrete canyons,
where icy winds collide,
Is where I choose to sell my work,
and watch the human tide.
Long johns, sweater, scarf and hat;
I thought I came prepared.
What a complacent fool I was
to think that I'd be spared.
When, oh when, will that damn sun
condescend to shine my way?
I see it coming inch by inch,
creeping up to make my day.
A F T E R N O O N
My eyes droop, the book slips.
"Yep, I made 'em," mumble lips.
Oh yes, I made them, every one.
Pitchers and bowls, by the ton.
And here I sit, in this fair spot,
trying hard to sell the lot.
Or a few, or two, or even one.
To pay the rent, or just for fun.
This morning was so full of hopes,
but by now I'm on the ropes.
It's four o'clock - the hours creep.
What will happen if I sleep?
And what will happen if I don't?
Nothing! But then . . . So I won't.
Oh Oh, a customer. Look alive!
Sit up. Stand up. Spiel that jive.
Nothing doing! There she goes.
Ease back, relax, time to doze.
And as my fair hopes decompose,
I seek relief in rhythmic prose.
No use, against the fates, to rail.
But, oh, she's back. At last a sale.
Cough, Cough, Wheeze, Wheeze,
Hack, Sputter, Spittle.
Oh, let me sleep in,
please, just a little.
My head is stuffed,
my nose is runny,
I feel like hell
and my voice is funny.
But up I get
and off I go,
(goodbye, warm bed)
off to the show.
Where's my sick leave?
My worker's comp.?
Not for me (or thee),
so to the fair I tromp.
I'm much too sick
to be here today.
But the rent is due,
there's no other way.
"Ken I hebb you,
Sir or Mem?"
Oh where's my Kleenex,
to spit this phlegm?
Aspirin an' Contac
an' vitamin C,
My eyes finally dry,
at least I can see.
One o'clock, two o'clock,
three o'clock, four,
Now it is only
a few hours more.
Finally it's over - but
now my head's clear.
I'll skip my sick bed
and go for a beer.
SLOW SHOW BLUES
Sitting here in my high chair,
eyes glazed in sightless stare.
Beyond the point of really caring
How my pocketbook is faring.
People come from left and right
floating in and out of sight.
A few do stop to scrutinize
and fill the air with heartfelt lies.
All this I sense through bleary haze,
for none disturb me in my daze.
I wonder what I came here for?
Oh yes, the money, I need more.
Choose more carefully, I should!
I knew this show would be no good.
But the good ones aren't so easily found.
They soon are run into the ground.
So here I am, it's too late now,
To worry why and where and how.
Now before the daylight fails
I suppose I ought to make some sales.
Yet how to sell my skillful work,
to this, or that, or the other jerk?
Should I get up and be quite shrill
or hire myself a friendly shill?
Perhaps my work will sell itself,
just sitting, prettily, on the shelf.
I try it all, now this, now that,
even smile at the little brat.
Nothing works, it's all for nought.
Not a single thing is bought.
I give up, it just won't sell.
I think I'll go back in my shell.
Now where's that book? Ah, here's the page.
Science Fiction's all the rage.
The future's great to dream about,
and slowly, slowly space on out.
All Poetry © John Reiger
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