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Life Arts    H4'ed 11/30/22

Into the gap


Gary Lindorff
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There is an inner room

Off the street

That is accessed through a small lobby

3 steps down

Where the walls and ceiling

Are painted black

And there are some posters

On the walls

And the lights are dim

But adequate to be able to see

How at least a dozen people are seated

At little tables

And there is a low stage

That is just high enough

So that everyone in the room can see

The person who is standing

Or sitting up there in front of them

And that person is you

And the people sitting at the little tables

Are no one you know

But you have their attention

And you have just said thank-you for coming

My name is

And you say your name

And they applaud

And then you say

Thanks again

(And) Let's get started

We all know why we are here

Would you (?) . . . know why you are there?

Would you know what to say?

Would you be the host

Who introduces the celebrated speaker?

Or would you treat it as a lucid dream

And say your piece?

Or would you hold your peace

For eternity or

Until the next opportunity arises?

............
Imagine saying things that matter to you, uncensured. Sharing what's important to you and having people actually listen . . . showing up at a dimly lighted dive like the one described in the poem, where people have actually gathered to hear you out. So what are you going to say? What's going to come out? I attended a performance recently where there were two young men standing under the stage lights, one on keyboard, and the other began ranting at the top of his lungs semi-coherently, punctuating every explosive denouncement with toxic expletives. It was painful to listen to but I made the conscious decision not to bolt or stop listening but to pay attention, and, low and behold, about half way through the performance I found that I was becoming strangely sympathetic with the tormented soul who was spilling his guts. After the performance, while the pair were packing up to make space for the next performers, I watched with interest as the artist morphed back into his off-stage character, soft-spoken and self-effacing. I realized that he was probably not psychotic and murderously angry after all, but he was just taking us somewhere, or inviting us to share an intensely emotional space with him for 15 - 20 minutes, more raw and intense and perhaps even more honest than any movie, and, in the end, I felt deeply grateful. I saw him as someone who is braver than me. Maybe that experience is one inspiration for writing this poem. I want to leave us all with the question: What would we share if we were facing an audience of sympathetic strangers who were there just to listen to us without judgment?

(Article changed on Nov 30, 2022 at 6:17 PM EST)

(Article changed on Nov 30, 2022 at 7:23 PM EST)

(Article changed on Dec 01, 2022 at 10:17 AM EST)

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of five nonfiction books, three collections of poetry, "Children to the Mountain", "The Last recurrent Dream" (Two Plum Press), "Conversations with Poetry (coauthored with Tom Cowan), and (more...)
 

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