Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (The Force of What’s Possible—Issue 46, October 2014)

Douglas A. Martin
Playing Field

The moves I made when I was younger were more decisive. For example: there was a competition to see who would get to be among a group of poets performing in one of the circus side tents at Lollapalooza, when it came through and stopped in Atlanta. At that age on the stage of the rock club I knew how to recite my piece after first opening my belt, dropping my trousers (jeans) to give meaning punch at the microphone. I’d planned beforehand, so I was wearing boxers, a symbolic present from a boyfriend. They were white, with a pattern of some red shape I can’t remember beyond color. The stage there was not new to me. I’d been on it a bit because it became an answer about how to try to get heard. I’d published a book of poetry while still an undergraduate in a college town where the local paper regretted, someone who contacted me said, there was no one there to review poetry.

This doesn’t make sense to me. I think it should be just like writing about music. I think of what I do at the time as like reading song lyrics, anyway, trying to make my own bridges. That white space is when it’s just the band.


The band I started to try to get around this wall was called honeyComb. The raising up has to be there in the middle of the word, not just the initial gesture. The meaning is getting to the prize at the bottom of a box.

I had a number of guys backing me, and here was the way I wasn’t by myself some days, when we would go over to the bedroom of one or the living room of another in old Victorian houses no one lived in anymore in the South, wasps and hornet’s nests under eaves of porch. One time the configuration is with the bassist of Jucifier, though, so it is not always only foxes I wanted to get closer to.


I could feel during proclaiming ballsy and boldly the beer bottle waiting out there in the dark to be pitched at my face, because I am hiding nothing up there on this stage.

The crowd is going to do it one day, if I don’t stop going on the way I go on. I bring what I think it is important to assert, disruption into places where you wouldn’t necessarily expect it. It’s the birthday party (20 years) for the 40-watt, yeah, and once at a mental health benefit in the main square I’m roundly chastised.

Hey, man, there are children here.


I do this piece I used to do a lot before I decided I needed no one sitting at a desk and would just write a novel instead.

The love poem was with tongue in cheek, because I liked a French boy who liked, he said, frat boys. He wants to bed such. My piece was to him through them. I was still mugging when I swung it. The life story I tell I tell in the closest thing I can get to song, troubling troubadouring.

Going out into the world is another thing. Still always there is complicated music—city, later—I’m in love with another poet, but a man mentoring me said how poetry would change nothing.


I can’t remember where it was that I had the talk with Patti Smith and she said the thing to me she said in a way other ears could also hear. Every chance you are given to speak might be your one and only, for some person in a particular audience to hear you, who really needed what you had to say. You really have to give them something, for them to listen.

Darcey asks: So do I like her now or not?

(We are coming to a theory of “cool,” or she is having a thought of how it’s about remoteness, a guardedness that flattens letting in, I paraphrase; the older she gets, she says the kind she now appreciates is more like a nice dog.)

Was this when the deaths started happening, so she was coming back out there to restage herself?

A husband or whoever dies and she asks me if it’s ok with me if she held my hand, saying that helps her. We did that in a few cities. Or was it the Christmas I go over, of course not alone, and she gives me Mapplethorpe’s autoportraits?

Theoretically, I’m engaged in avant-gardes. Pluralizing seems essential.

In the car driving home from where I sometimes teach poetry, because who now just has one job, trying to show a way in it and trying to find a way into what I’m wanting to express here, I endeavor to explain to Michael who the philosopher is, though I get mixed up with Badiou and Bourdieu (the later was the one on my Orals list, when I went back to graduate school, not able to get a teaching job I could live off of from the books of writing published even if prose). A conversation with another gets me thinking. Who talks about the Academy publically if they’re not already in it.