I had this friend in DC named Don. I saw him at all of the poetry readings in DC metro, and we started to hang out a lot. He liked to write poems - spontaneously - on the scene - on bar napkins. He even had a chapbook he was writing called Love Poems on Bar Napkins.
One time he wrote one of his love poems on a bar napkin, and he showed it to this girl in a bar. She started to read it, and then her friend said something to her, and she got distracted. She spilled her beer, and then she used Don’s poem to wipe up the beer spill. She realized what she had done, and she got this look on her face...like...struggling not to laugh out loud...covering her mouth with her palm...total derision. I don’t know if Don thought so, but it seemed to me to be the cruelest fuckin thing I’d witnessed in quite a while. Don seemed to be half stunned, but he was still trying to hit on this girl... and therefore he was willing to allow her whatever cruelties she whimsically felt like dealing out. But poetry is Don’s thing - his poems have been in the Iowa Review and a lot of other places and shit - he’s no joke - he takes his poems very seriously... and that dumb girl just laughed it off... she looked to me for some kind of complicit expression - on my face - as if she was hoping I would sigh and roll my eyes and wordlessly convey something like, “I know. Who cares about this weirdo’s dumb poem?” I gave her a look that I was hoping would cause her to have great guilty feelings... but then I just tried not to look at her at all. She walked off leaving Don with his soggy fuckin poem.
I told Don to hurry up and transcribe his poem to another piece of paper before the writing on the napkin got blurred too badly.
...that was one cold, creep of a skank ‘ho’ - that girl... or maybe Don was the one - the one going around showing poems to girls in bars - as a way of hitting on them - I don’t know. The whole thing made me queasy.