March 22 – A Listening Date with Myself

March 22, 2023

Last week, Susan Thomsen who blogs at Chicken Spaghetti, wrote a Poetry Friday post with a prompt that might be fun for Slicers, too. Her post, “Street Guide” is a  guide for writing what she calls street poetry. She explains, “Street poems are what I call the found-language poems I’ve put together from lines I’ve overheard. They come from not only the street but also restaurants, museums, theaters, subways, etc.”

I took time this week to take myself on a date to listen. I took my notebook (the one Jone MacCulloch gave me for a Poetry Friday poem exchange) and a favorite pen and went to town. I tried to take Susan’s suggestion about “unblocking” for this activity: “In cities we are used to blocking out what is not necessary for us to know getting from Point A to Point B, but unblocking is the first step to listening for lines.” As I went through my morning, I realized how unusual it is to unblock and purposefully listen to what is going on around me.

First, I went to my favorite shop and had a $8 $9! masala chai latte. (The price went up, but it is almost worth it! They make it with oat milk on the stove top. Can you see the steam coming out of the cup in the photo? It’s a 16-ounce cup and lasts a long time, staying so hot and delicious.) Then I went to a favorite thrift shop, where I found one serving dish that is going into my to-be-refinished gift pile. Next, I headed to the public library, where I checked out some vegan cookbooks and bought some Friends of the Library book sale books. Finally, I finished at Aldi to get a few groceries.

This morning I transcribed what I wrote in my notebook into a Google Document. The complete transcript is here. Then I took that document, made a copy, deleted commentary and many of the lines. I didn’t change the order or location of where I heard these words. All in all, unblocking and listening was a fun activity, which I will try again. Here is my poem composed entirely of things I heard in Yucca Valley, California, on March 20, 2023:

I – At the café
It’ll be out in a bit.
Do you want water?
Yeah, you got it.
♫ You can call me Queen Bee
It was interesting
♫ I shake it off, And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake
The next day
♫ Lightning strikes every time she moved
No, I’m not
Sugar is over there.
We’ll see.
As C. used to say
I’m trying to keep up
♫ I just can’t refuse it, like the way you do this
Can I have another…oh, never mind.
♫ I heard that you’ve settled down
Hey, how are you?
Awesome, man.
And someone sat on it? Oh, my god.
Yeah, I had some.

II – At the thrift shop
Yeah, they’re kind of hard to find.
They go fast
Ok, I do have my glasses.
Yo, dog
I have something for you
Thank you.
You’re welcome, you’re so welcome.
It came from my heart.
Can you get me some more?
It has to be the right stuff
I don’t know if you like it,
but I like it.
I think we should get it.
It’s beautiful.
I think you two are in cahoots.
Is that in your way?
I put it over there.

III – At the library
Oh, we don’t take checks.
You can pay for it at the kiosk.
Is it #6? I said, is it #6?
Everyone else’s computer is still working.
It says #6 is offline, but #7 is on.
You have the keys
No, you do
You can take those out to the van
Look at this
Is that a spaceship?
Are you kidding?
Yes, I am. Yes, I am kidding.
Can you tell me how long you will be?
I can’t log on to #14.
Does it think I am still logged into #6?
I need to do some work.
N, did you put paper in the book drop?

IV – At Aldi
Do you have a quarter?
I do, but thanks for asking.
So, I’ll get salami,
and what’s the other one?
Pep? pep? Pepperoni!
Gelato. Gelato, fun.
Oh, I thought those apples were on sale.
I’m sorry.
Don’t worry about me.
I’m in no hurry,
the curse of being retired.

Lyrics footnotes (the music was the main thing I could hear at the café, thus so many lyrics made it into my street poem)

1 “Royals” by Lorde
2 “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift
3 “This is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris
4 “Don’t Stop the Music” by Rhianna
5 “Someone Like You” by Adele

I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March. Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!