Speaking Engagement: A Poem

I was invited once again to Ryan McKinley’s “Ricochet” event, a speaking engagement where he invites speakers of various backgrounds to tell true stories about themselves for a welcome audience.  The show was broadcast live on Facebook and is on his podcast or will be soon.

The premise is that the speakers have to tell a story according to a theme (in this case “So you think you’re so smart?”).  The story has to be true and it can be funny or serious.  I chose to tell my embarrassing story via the mode of a poem.  What follows is that poem:

Wrong Mail Box

Fiancées wedding shower.
I am the solitary man at this gathering,
Unaware that men are not
Invited to these things,
But anticipating
The outing I have devised for later
For my future bride:
Italian Bistro and “Will Rogers Follies”

For now I wander the dimly lit cavernous halls of the church,
For it is Saturday, and we are saving power, says the diminutive pastor.
I ponder the life I am about to begin
With my true love
My soul mate
Two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl
Becoming one found soul

As I repose upon a soft couch in the foyer
The sonic double cheeseburger I consumed earlier
Like concrete congealing in the rain
So I hasten to the nearest lavatory.
Discovering it empty,
I enter the nearest stall
To begin the inevitable

With smart phones a distant future
I sit in silence
And then I ascertain voices

Distinct female voices

Before long
Someone enters the stall to my left
And my eyes track down
To the underside of the faintly rusted partition
And I spy a nylon clad foot nestled in a somewhat scuffed gray pump

I start, my business concluded, and begin to survey my mistake

The chatty voices continue:
“And did you see that blender? Who gives a blender?”
“And my goodness he is…what does he do again?”
“He’s so handsome. At least more handsome than the other ones.”
“Did he say something about being a writer?”
“Hope that pays the bills.”
“I wonder when they’ll have some little ones running around?”

Precipitately I am beset with fear,
The trap I have arranged for myself springing shut.
How to escape?
The woman next to me finishes with a clamber
And I hear the softest sound of elegant flatulence
A flush
And the voices continue, but they are thankfully, mercifully quieting, moving away.

So I decide to escape.

I ready myself,
Fastening things together.
Tucking in shirt tail
Taking in a deep breath and holding it
Holding it
Holding it

My hand, quivering, reaches for the latch.
I slide it aside
Grip it until the metal creaks
Open quickly
The motion wafting a humid breeze

And two minuscule girls stand before me in their Sunday best,
Between the stall and the sink
Staring wide eyed
Mouths open in horror

And I dash out the door.

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