Music Unheard

I like the guy
pacing around in the background,
listening and chatting on his cell phone,
whom the viewer can see
through the storefront window
of a Marin County eatery,
where Kay Ryan sits,
explaining why she writes such short poems,
(in fact, if this was one of her own,
it would end about here)
and how each poem she writes
is a kind of sass,
backtalk to something she heard or read.
Then there’s the guy who’s a ringer for my dead brother,
stomping through the Central Park Zoo,
like a large angry ape escaped from his cage,
not looking at anything,
not even the camera,
while Kay talks in a voiceover
about her poem “How Birds Sing,”
which is on display on a plaque nearby.
We don’t know what the one guy is saying
and don’t know why the other is so enraged.
But there they are, you can’t ignore them:
both inadvertent prisoners
of this documentary about poetry.
And they will always distract me
from whatever point the film is making.

Keith Dunlap is a former co-editor of The Columbia Review and former co-editor of Cutbank, having received his MFA from the University of Montana. His poems may be found in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Brooklyn Review, The Carolina Quarterly, and The Georgetown Review, among other places. His manuscript, “The Foot in the Elevator,” was a finalist at Brickhouse Books New Poets Series and The New Issues Poetry Prize, and a semi-finalist for Brooklyn Arts Press. Dunlap lives in Portland, Maine with his wife, the novelist, Jenny Siler, and his daughter, Vivica.

See another of his poems in 3.4 here.