Twenty Eight.

Poetry

You know a teacher is cool if he accepts art as extra credit, especially when you’re too stoned to complete the regular English assignment. Mr. Deluca was strict, but fun. We kept journals and read Shakespeare. We also watched movies and listened to Bob Dylan.

When I botched an essay in Greek Mythology he let me build a clay sculpture of the Minotaur. I used a beer can as the base. And when my oral interpretation of a poem was “marred with technical difficulties,” he graded with compassion. The assignment was to record a poem at home to play in class. I got luded and slurred my way through “Invictus”.

Mr. Deluca encouraged me to write poetry. When I said I didn’t understand it, he said, “Don’t worry, write your own.” I said I didn’t want to write about nature and flowers. He said, “Fine. Write what you know.”

“All I know is high school and chicks and getting in trouble.”

“Good start.”

And the first thing I learned? Poetry will get you laid. Just like ludes and coke, poetry will get you laid. That’s not why I started writing it, but it might be why I continued.

I spent eleventh grade becoming a poet. With Joe still in juvy, it was easy to focus on reading and writing. I didn’t get in trouble and I made the honor roll. I had a poem published in the school journal, then helped edit it. When I wasn’t in school or working out, I was in the used bookstore downtown. It was called Normal’s, but nothing about it was, including the quirky guys who ran it.

Then I met Emma. She was unlike any chick in school. She didn’t care about fashion or hairstyle, or dating jocks. She liked going to clubs and dating musicians. I guess she did care about hairstyle some, though. Just before we became friends she cut her hair really short and hated it so much she vowed never to cut it again. And she didn’t. That ended her concern with hairstyle.

Emma was concerned with poetry, and we bonded immediately. We were in Creative Writing together. Our teacher, Mrs. Russo, was hot, Stevie Nicks hot, even her voice. When she spoke, all I heard was “Edge of Seventeen,” which apparently was about death, but not in my fantasy.

So when I got tired of jerking off to my writing teacher, I started dating girls who looked like her.

I told Emma about my crush and she thought it was cool, in a poetic way. We were learning not only the language of poetry, but the language of poets. It wasn’t hard. It all pretty much meant the same thing: let’s fuck. Or, let’s fight, then fuck. Or, let’s look at nature for a while, then fight, then fuck. But in the end it’s about fucking.

Emma and I didn’t fuck, but we talked about fucking. We shared what we did with whom and who we liked better, and wrote poetry about it all. We spent weekend mornings drinking coffee at Howard Johnson’s and afternoons at Normals, searching the musty shelves for poetry we hadn’t read.

We dedicated the summer to poetry, reading at open mics in coffee shops and bars around Baltimore. Reading aloud meant getting into a poem and pushing it out. It also meant standing in front of a bunch of strangers and baring our souls. For me it was a turn on, standing in front of a group of people and talking about sex. Other people had nightmares that they were naked in front of an audience. For me that was a fantasy. And reading poetry aloud felt very similar.

For Emma it was a panic attack, at first. Her hands shook and her voice cracked, all exaggerated by too much coffee. I felt it too, but I think I was better at hiding it. Soon, though, the words were flowing and the poems were flowing and we were flowing, and the audience was flowing with us.

Reading poetry aloud will get you laid. Faster than writing it. For about three minutes, you’re a rock star. Of course, there might only be ten people in the audience, but you own them for that time. I always looked for a cute chick to glance at when reading hot lines, hoping she’d think I wrote it for her. And if she was in the audience it probably meant she was a poet too, which of course backfired on me and gave me a crush on her, causing me to follow her all over town to open readings, until eventually I got up the nerve to compliment her poems. Then I brought in my wingman, or wingwoman, as the case may be, to invite her out for coffee so I could tag along and inspire her to write poems about me, or marry me, or fuck me.

Emma and I didn’t share class in twelfth grade, not even lunch. But we still hung at HoJo’s on the weekends.

I stared at the menu again. “What are you getting?”

“Clam strips.”

“Fried rubber bands? Yum.”

“It’s all about the tartar sauce.”

“Yeah, the proper aging in warm temperature.”

Emma smiled. The waitress took our order and disappeared into the kitchen. “So,” I asked, cracking the foil on a non-dairy creamer, “how’s drummer boy?”

“He’s fine. We came here yesterday for lunch. Spent all afternoon. Drank three pots. Then he bought a harmonica, and we went home to fuck like rabbits.”

“Sounds like a good afternoon,” I said, watching the cream swirl in my cup. “Three pots of coffee, huh? I bet that was intense.”

“A bit. You?”

“What? Intensity? Well, you know…A little here, a little there.” Which was pretty much the truth. A couple of fuck buddies, but no girlfriends. Actually they were girlfriends, just not mine. I didn’t steal them, I just borrowed them. Actually, they borrowed me, calling up every now and then to be bad.

They called when they needed me, when their jock boyfriends were too drunk to fuck, or just too inattentive, and they wanted a little supplement. I was the supplement. I developed a quiet reputation and before long, I was a very busy Mann.

Suddenly I was invited to parties like never before: jock parties, study parties, cheerleader parties. It was strange. The chicks would stand next to their boyfriends and be totally indifferent. But when they walked by I would feel a finger caress my back. Then they might nod toward the bathroom or the back door and expect me to wait while they ditched their dudes. Of course, I did.

Sometimes they just slipped a number in my pocket as they walked by, either for themselves or a girlfriend, or both. The secret alliance of high school chicks was a world unto itself, and I didn’t try to understand. And I didn’t complain either. What I did, was have sex with cute chicks who wanted nothing from me but to pretend it didn’t happen.

I was hooked. Cute chicks used me as a sex toy, then shared me with girlfriends. I couldn’t think about it. It seemed unbelievable and I didn’t want to jinx it. In public they barely knew me. In private, they eagerly blew me.

They were all high energy sex freaks, full of dirty talk. My God, the stuff they said. They weren’t afraid to tell what they wanted. Sometimes I had to stop and look at them just to make sure what I heard actually came from their perfect, Lip Glossed mouths. Mary Beth used to say what she wanted. But that was Mary Beth. She was like that about everything, especially sex. But these chicks, the only things they ever talked about were math and science and school elections, or so I thought. It was amazing. I was certain I found my calling in life. Oh, I didn’t abandon poetry, in fact, I was pretty sure I just discovered it.

After countless hours contemplating my effect on these chicks—and just to set the record straight, it wasn’t dozens of chicks. It was six—I concluded my poetry was doing it. Not just writing poetry, but living it. Poetry is about details– it’s about getting laid, too, but it achieves that through details. Nothing is overlooked or assumed. Everything is observed: every smell, touch, taste, sound, sight. Nothing is taken for granted. I mean, who else but a poet would write a poem on a chick’s clit with his tongue. And it doesn’t even have to be a good poem. Some chicks might need an epic poem, some only a Haiku, or in Dawn’s case, multiple Haiku, but regardless of the poem, it’s all about delivery. During cunnilingus I learned the power of caesura.

Eating pussy is all about details. And where did I learn the details? Where did I learn to listen to chicks? What questions to ask? How to ask them? Well, what can I say…some of us are just born with it.

And some of us ask Emma. Not just Emma but other chicks too. Chicks in general. I couldn’t believe how many dudes asked other dudes what chicks like. How the hell would they know? I asked chicks. Especially Emma. That’s what we talked about. What good is a chick for a friend if you’re not going to ask her about sex? But more important was listening to her answers. The more I talked to Emma, the more I could talk to other chicks. It was easy, just ask them what they wanted, then give it to them. If they didn’t know or were too shy to say, experiment a little. And listen. And watch. No big secret.

I never understood why more guys never caught on. Maybe they didn’t care. Maybe they had issues. Whatever. Regardless, it wasn’t happening. Maybe they just didn’t care about being good. I did. I was obsessed with it. I pretty much gave up drugs and replaced it with sex, or at least talk about sex. Even though I was only with six chicks, I talked to a dozen more, mostly on the phone. I wasn’t a phone person, but when a chick started talking sex, I didn’t hang up until her end clicked dead.

Annemarie had a crush on Brian and told me about it on the phone one night, sharing hot details of her fantasy. She had a Robert Plant thing and Brian had long, curly blond hair. I imagined her touching herself while telling me, breathily, about climbing on top of him and digging her nails into his chest. After a few minutes, I was touching myself, too. I mean, Annemarie was hot: long brown hair, big brown eyes, big tits and incredible ass. And using such dirty talk. I jerked off three times, with no lubrication. I was so raw I had trouble sleeping. And the next morning I was so hard from dreaming about her I jerked off again.

So anyway, these were the things that Emma and I shared over coffee at HoJo’s.

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