I’ve been writing poems for years. Hundreds and hundreds of them. A small percentage get into print. And most of those, when I reread them after a year or two, are disappointing.
This one was not. I like it as much now as when I wrote it.
But it is, as I say, a found poem. It was written the day after I heard the conversation. It was winter. I bought a cigar at OK Cigars in NYC. I asked if they had a smoking room. They did. It was in the basement. I expected a nicely furnished room with plush leather couches and the like – which is typical of cigar store smoking lounges. But this was just an old, overstuffed chair in an unfinished basement. The conversation that I observed was between two employees that were opening crates at the time.
Found Poem: In the Basement of OK Cigars
Have you ever made your own envelopes? It’s a hobby of mine. It’s just a thing, kind of strange…
I thought of doing that, but I was afraid the postman might object. Like not sending it, or holding it up for some stupid technical reason. Is there a legal standard for envelopes?
I don’t know, man.
I don’t even know if there should be.
I’m really skeptical of stamps these days – that they will stay on. Like especially ever since they came up with self-sticking stamps.
For sure. You see the edges curling up and you wonder… They might not make it through the scanners!
That wouldn’t be cool.
I think about putting tape on it but I wonder if the dudes at the post office would have a problem with that. I just want it to go where it’s going.
My dad has a massive stamp collection. As a kid I had to soak envelopes to get them off. That’s all I did for years. The sink would get clogged up with glue. The slugs would eat the stuff.
I had to pick dandelions in the yard with one of those two-pronged pickers because my parents were hippies and wouldn’t use weed spray.
But it’s work, man, and work is good. It’s better than doing dishes, I guess.
I can’t watch people doing dishes. It drives me crazy when they don’t rinse them right.
Yeah, that’s bad. That’s really bad. I am so obsessed with rinsing.
Me too. Do you use the rack or dry them with a towel?
I use the rack, man. Why would I go to all that trouble of rinsing them and then wipe them with a crappy towel?
Yeah, it’s like having a washcloth in the shower. I haven’t seen one of those in ages.
So old school.
It’s not right, man. It’s just not right.
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