I ring the doorbell of the world’s perfect poet, her modest brick bungalow a mere four blocks away.
I wait, the pause startles me, and then, there it is.
Three celestial notes summoned from a flute hallowed out of an angel’s left wingbone.
Who else but the world’s perfect poet needs divine intervention on a cement city porch?
A faded voice, coated in nicotine and pickled in gin, rises out of the ether, the world’s perfect poet a mere three rooms away.
“I’m coming, God damn it. Just keep your pants on. I’m mired in syntax and have to clean up.”
It comes as no surprise, her tongue a machete, slicing off conversation into mere words.
So I wait, wasting my time, trying to decode the formula for prose, carved with a butter knife in the fiberglass front door.
Only the world’s perfect poet would be so reckless and bold.
Suddenly, the door yanks open. She stands there before me, the world’s perfect poet an arm’s length away.
“Don’t bother with that equation. You’ll never solve it. The algorithm goes back all the way to the kitchen. But you’ll never see it because you can’t enter. Just who are you anyway and what do you want?”
The world’s suspicious poet closes the door within inches, using her math as a formidable blockade.
“Are you one of those Jehovahs, sent here to save me?”
I knew all along this was probably a mistake.
I shake my head no, not a Jehovah, my tongue a dead fish in a shallow pond of sin.
So I just stand there, face to face with the world’s perfect poet, my chance for enlightenment slipping slowly away.
She is grizzled and wiry, head like a basilica, with skinny white legs shaped from expired feta cheese.
Most distracting of all is the three p.m. bathrobe, duct-taped and stapled with scraps of lined paper, a sash of spent typewriter ribbon cinching her secrets.
There are words on the paper.
I am bold. I peer closer and…
meet the eyes of a hurricane, the force yet to come.
And then, unexpected, draped in complete “out of nowhere”, the world’s perfect poet gifts me advice.
“No word is wasted, not even the rotters. Just toss them in the compost and let steep for a while.”
There was a slight pause, her eyes narrowed to slits, as she sized me p briefly, or at least so I thought.
“There’s paper and pencils, over there on the porch corner. Go write something uncomfortable. I’ve got better things to do.”
Miracles arrive on the stockinged feet of ghosts and depart just as quickly in galoshes filled with tears.
The world’s perfect poet slams shut her front door.
I sit for an hour, biting verbs off of sentences, pushing my pencil into words as they squirm.
In the end, there is nothing, only:
three pencils, broken,
six useless words written,
a wad of lined paper tossed at the front door.
I am a charlatan, a hypocrite, an abuser of language.
What was I thinking to come here at all? To ring the bell of the world’s perfect poet, who seeps art through her skin, without even trying, creating tattoos of language before pencil meets paper.
I head down the steps, broken, dejected, my mission a failure, my passion is crushed.
The door eases open, I might be mistaken, the world’s perfect poet grabs up my six words.
I watch as she tapes that sad scrap of paper, smooths it along her uneven hem.
She doesn’t even see me, maybe doesn’t care to, the front door left open just enough for stray thought.