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The Poetry Reading

by
 at high noon
at a small college near the beach
sober
the sweat running down my arms
a spot of sweat on the table
I flatten it with my finger
blood money blood money
my god they must think I love this like the others
but it's for bread and beer and rent
blood money
I'm tense lousy feel bad
poor people I'm failing I'm failing
a woman gets up
walks out
slams the door
a dirty poem
somebody told me not to read dirty poems
here
it's too late.
my eyes can't see some lines I read it out- desperate trembling lousy they can't hear my voice and I say, I quit, that's it, I'm finished.
and later in my room there's scotch and beer: the blood of a coward.
this then will be my destiny: scrabbling for pennies in tiny dark halls reading poems I have long since beome tired of.
and I used to think that men who drove buses or cleaned out latrines or murdered men in alleys were fools.

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