Sunday’s reading went marvelously. In fact, I felt like it was the best reading I’ve ever done.
For those who are interested, here’s one of the new poems I debuted that night:
Johnson Elementary School’s 12th Annual Spelling Bee
Men do stupid things for women,
and in sixth grade I learned this
when Kennessa Marshall bet fellow classmate Brigham Toskin
twenty-five whole bucks
that I’d take first place in the spelling bee.
So, two weeks later I stood on the stage,
a snap-on dangling from my collar
and the microphone growling at my nose.
Without proper study habits
I neglected to study any words
more challenging than “vice president.”
The first word for me was “undaunted.”
My mouth became an aquarium
with algae sliming my cheeks over a fake coral reef
and “undaunted” lay sideways on the surface,
dead and stinky.
I had to stall, so I asked my questions,
and the judge made the facts solid for me,
that my rotting fish of a word
is synonymous with “courage,”
or the latin coraticum,
cor meaning heart —
and he never finished
because right then the windows
on all sides of the auditorium shattered.
Seats rumbled and doorways splintered.
The earthquake crawled through the aisles
and split the stage open like a pomegranate.
The rest of the contestants, still in their chairs,
fell through what was left of the stage
straight to the molten core of our planet.
There were no survivors.
And that’s how I won my sixth grade spelling bee.