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Purgatory by Carolyn Martin


by Carolyn Martin

(published in The Opiate, August 2016)

can’t be much worse than this: sitting in the second row while the poet– featured tonight for reasons only the emcee knows–fumbles through a notebook for the next offering he’ll serve up in a voice that hovers somewhere between pseudo-humility and arrogance as he alludes to obscure Italian history and no one has a clue so I’m free to tune out everything but my mind conversing with itself about a metaphor that may–or not–redeem a line of verse.

He closes his book fifteen minutes after he should, having warned us three times we’d only have to bear a few more poems–as if that would relieve the strain of the clock winding down and my urge to bolt for home where I’ll throw my coat on a kitchen chair, grab my yellow pad, and ponder where to add a new terrace to the Purgatorio–somewhere, perhaps, on the mountainside above the proud, below the envious–devised for bloaters of words and those who feign applause.

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