POET IN RESIDENCE
Before I thought to make the little bakery booklet of poems, Sweetheart and I spoke about framing each poem, unsigned, and installing them on the bakery walls.
It would be a bold move.
In the bakery, on all the walls around the fairly large one room built like a barn, with timbered posts and beams, white walls, many splashy windows, are paintings on display by some local artists. Not always that good.
So we thought, for a day only, we would come in before the place opened, using our magic key, and take down for a very short time the paintings everyone was used to, and hang in their place these unsigned framed poems. Small poems, small frames.
The thing to keep in mind is that no one knows us in the bakery, or even the town. This is just our concocted crazy scheme. Do you realize how many great things are drummed up this way? and how many equally bad and ruinous and selfish things are made? Miserable and sweeping oil spills derive from almost the same commanding self-interest, but this would be poetry, kept small scale, and in this case kept imaginary. So let me continue with the dream. . .
The public might protest the act, but it would be a sure thing that they would approach the smaller world, on seeing the paintings and color and big world removed (all stored lovingly in the back room against one another), and come to the framed poems curious as to who had the nerve to do this.
They would stop at one and cry out loud to the others who have gone to all the other poems, “You call this a poem?!” and another would reply after peering into a frame, “I know! Who did this?” and others would only grumble as they dashed frame to frame.
The only ones who were saying nothing — in fact little smiles could be seen from the corners of their mouths as they left one poem and walked slowly to another — were the ones who recognized themselves. Yes, these were poems written about and for people who had come to the bakery for a cookie or a turnover with no idea on that same day someone was watching and remembering. These would be poems absolutely to and for the bakery and its customers. Nothing more. Oh, well, maybe to the surroundings. . .
Even the poet wasn’t quite sure if the poems were any good, but he was happy enough to see for a very short time such a ruckus.
Of course it didn’t take long for that one with Authority — and it is often an individual who doesn’t come even close to the work, never mind bothering to read it or look at it — to take over, and the frames were now being removed by a small squad of volunteers, who got the poem frames all off the walls and momentarily placed on tables.
But then people were seen still curious going to the unguarded tables and lifting a poem to read, maybe for a second or third time.
In the meantime, the Authority figure was seen standing in the middle of the bakery shouting orders to his minions, “Did you look around all the corners, one could be there!” And sure enough there was another small poem in a 5 x 7 frame just waiting. Floating in its stillness...
There were different accounts but one person swears the poems stayed up for at least one hour, and it was at that lovely hour in any bakery in any part of the world, Sunday morning, 7:45 to 8:45, as people were waking up and walking in with the slowly warming sunrise.
One child was heard to say, “I liked the poems. It was different,” then shrugging and biting into a powdered cookie.
When the artists were told what had happened to their works, they made sure they returned personally to see that their paintings were hung properly. It’s not just any old frame on a nail, you know.
photo: © Bob Arnold