Issue Introduction: Why I Can’t/Didn’t Come to Your Poetry Reading

by Jana Harris, Editor

Who else is coming? I don’t drive at night. I’d love to come and meet my poetry teacher, but I live in Korea. My truck got rear-ended. I’m going through a rough patch. Does the bookstore have childcare? I don’t get off work until 6. It depends on the weather. I got trapped and couldn’t get away in time; I was supposed to meet up with someone at 5, but it didn’t happen and I got separated from your phone number. Will Greer be there? I’m feeling slammed due to deadlines at work. I’ll have to leave in the middle for a recital at the Provost’s house. We got stuck on the bridge for hours because of the Mariners game. I don’t understand poetry. Will they have books? Last time they didn’t have books. I left my phone with my calendar on it on the plane. What if it snows? I had a knee replacement. I didn’t know you wrote poetry; when did you start doing that? I was in Mexico. I don’t want to run into Greer. Do you have a copy you could lend me? I don’t buy books.  You didn’t remind me. I ran over my phone; I put it on the wheel-well of my truck while I was checking tire pressure, forgot about it, and drove away. My book club meets that night. I was stranded on the interstate because of a Seahawks game. My new phone hasn’t arrived yet. Let me re-think the possibility of seeing Greer and I’ll get back to you. If I have to park on the street, I’m afraid my truck will get repossessed. Can I bring some of my own poems to read? I must have gone to the wrong bookstore. That’s my Palates night. You didn’t send me a Facebook invite. I have Tylor that week and no sitter. What’s a poetry reading? My dog is sick and needs to be medicated every two hours. If Greer is coming, I might come early, so that we can catch up. Traffic wasn’t moving and we never found out why. It’s a really stressful time for me and as much as I’d like to make this happen, I can’t. That’s the very day I get back from Maui. Not if it looks like rain, my windshield wipers aren’t reliable. I don’t like that venue; when my book came out, they never asked me to read there. I had my other knee replaced. I couldn’t find a free place to park. I’m anticipating getting bad news about my blood work. You have another new book out? Greer wants to meet for a drink first, so we might be a few minutes late. I was going to come with my daughter, but she had a bad cold. There’s a new noise in my truck’s engine and I don’t want to get stranded. Does that store have an elevator? I don’t need an elevator, but I don’t patronize stores that don’t have elevators. Will I have to buy a book? It’s the only night I can take Tylor to the mall to shop for black jeans. It was too hot a day to go anywhere. I keep thinking that that might be a good time for me to go to the ER. When I called the bookstore they’d never heard of you. I have a frantic work schedule; I could try to get there after I get off and before I pick up my boyfriend from chess club. My new phone arrived, but I haven’t figured out how to use it yet. I might be going out of town. My truck was repossessed. It was too nice a day to be inside at night. I’m having dinner with Greer, but we’ll be there before it ends. Promise. So, other than Greer, who else is coming?

Copyright 2015, Jana Harris

A previous incarnation, “Why I Can’t Come to Your Poetry Reading,” appeared in the Poetry Project Newsletter (St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, NYC, June 1982).

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