Monday, February 22, 2016

Poem of the Week 2.22.15




Telephone Booth (number 905 1/2)

BY PEDRO PIETRI
woke up this morning
feeling excellent,
picked up the telephone
dialed the number of
my equal opportunity employer
to inform him I will not
be into work today
Are you feeling sick?
the boss asked me
No Sir I replied:
I am feeling too good
to report to work today,
if I feel sick tomorrow
I will come in early


Ode to a Grasshopper
BY PEDRO PIETRI

(I hope)

the only reason
That I am this pre-autumn
Afternoon in the privacy
Of my suspicious living room
Grant myself permission
To believe in god once again
Is solely because I saw
An unexpected grasshopper
Staring at my thoughts
On the table that keeps
The telephone from having
A mind of its very own
At first I was startled
And then I was startled less
At the sight of this insect
Put together in green details
To pay me an afternoon visit
39 floors above floor level
In my High Rise Hobo apartment
Miracle on 53rd street
Grasshopper hopped all the way
39 floors above floor level
To deliberately invade my privacy
And I didn't mind at all
After grasshopper assured me
It didn't speak English or Spanish
Or Chinese with an Italian accent
So we hit it off right away
You mind your own business
And I will not ask you
Any personal questions aside
From how the hell did you get here
I've never written a poem
About grasshoppers this high up before
And I know it wasn't something
My non existing paint brushes
Conceived behind my back and
The only grass I have here is
To smoke & not hop around in
Until I get dizzy and levitate
There has to be a mistake
Or did the grasshopper take
The elevator to the 39th floor
And enter my apartment without knocking
To make it obvious grasshoppers
Have the right to remain silent also
And give credit to the desert
For his arrival and not no Almighty
The only other mystery capable
Pedro Pietri,1944–2004, founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Anti-AIDS Activist, Puerto Rican Rights Activist, My Poetry Hero.
Pedro Pietri served in Vietnam and came back a poet. Most notably known for the poem "Puerto Rican Obituary," Pietri's work was heavily anthologized in the late eighties and early nineties. 
His telephone booth series was a one man show that he performed at churches, street corners, and living rooms until he and two friends founded the NuyoRican cafe.
 Here's Number 905 1/2 performed:



I've always admired Pietri's ability to pack humor, darkness, and hope into very simple lines. We have to laugh or else this world will kill us all. 
 -Chante

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