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Poetry Reading at the Rahway Library
Nancy Scott

Evening event. I’m expecting adults,
not six squirming kids. The poems
I’ve selected won’t work—long-winded one
that winds down the page, another
with foreign names, others about degenerate
relatives, death, lost loves, or kids locked
in closets. I scuttle my list, flip through pages
for poems about a good witch who cared for
sick animals, my granddaughter eyeing
a monster at Octoberfest, my son making pasta.
I glance at my watch, then a nine-year-old kid
pipes up, When’s it my turn?
Now, I say, as the librarian scurries off
to find him a book of poems about basketball.
The kid grabs the mic with one hand,
the book with other and begins to sight read
like a pro. I’m content to let him read
the whole book, but after the four poems,
he takes a bow, grins, and struts back to his seat,
a hearty round of applause, he’s the star
of the show. At his age, I was a klutz.
My piano recital—I forgot how to end
Für Elise, until a disembodied arm reaches
through the curtain, yanks me off the stage.
Or in a kid’s production of Sleeping Beauty,
as the old watchman, I forgot my two lines
—Who are you? What do you want?
Now I’ve been outdone by this kid,
who probably spends hours rapping
with a plastic microphone, driving his family
half-crazy, so a real mic’s not strange,
or the spunk in his voice, and I remember
that old adage—Never share the stage
with children or animals.
From Detours & Diversions (Main Street Rag, 2011).
Used here with the author’s permission.

 Nancy Scott is the author of five books of poetry and managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, the journal of the U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative in New Jersey. Her most recent book, On Location (March Street Press, 2011), is a collection of poems inspired by works of art from all over the world. She is also an artist and drops off and collects her collages from various exhibits in much the same way that she chauffeured her four children when they were younger. Learn more about Nancy at 



Post New Comment:
Wilda Morris:
Great story!
Posted 01/23/2013 09:14 AM
Kathe L. Palka:
I remember this night Nancy! What a great story and you tell it so well.
Posted 01/22/2013 09:07 AM
What fun! I can certainly relate to this situation.
Posted 01/22/2013 08:16 AM
nancy scott:
Thanks, Phebe. I read that night with Kathe Palka, long drive, no audience, no sales, but that kid with all his bravado turned a potential fiasco into a charming event. I just had to memorialize it.
Posted 01/22/2013 07:32 AM
What a marvellous poem this is! The momentum, the sneaky turn of the narrative--something to keep coming back to just to feel good about poetry & how it works.
Posted 01/22/2013 06:37 AM

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