The Stranger

Posted: May 20, 2010 in Poetry
Tags: ,

Busy few poetry days…

I think I mentioned that I had a new poem called Moving to Arizona. I performed it at the Urban Legends ad hoc Anti-Slam… but messed it up pretty bad. I then spent the next couple of days trying to get it down. Monday night I went out to the LiPS Slam in Carleton Place (the Lanark County crew) so that I could give it another go.

The love and support I get out there is above and beyond…

I did it in the first round, but I messed it up AGAIN! Purely psychological. I was crawling into my own head.

Oh, I still got 29.9. Fair? As I said, they love my stuff out there. I guess you could argue that they can’t punish me for having memorization problems when I was one of only a couple of poets who didn’t read off paper, and they weren’t ‘punished’. The is debatable.

Where I think it gets sticky is that I don’t see how it was possible that I didn’t get a time penalty.

Anyway, in the second round I did The Stranger, which happens to be today’s entry. I got a 29.8 for that one and won the Slam.

Tuesday night I drove up to Montreal with the Recipe to feature at the Throw Slam finals. I practiced all day again.

This time I absolutely nailed it. The crowd response was HUGE! It felt like the room elevated in that moment, and just kept going. By the time Ikenna was talking about Marc Lepine, the Recipe had won a new city’s worth of fans. 🙂

CONTEXT: March, 2010

This poem is a true story. In fact, it is a true story within a true story.

The time I was walking down the darkened street and suddenly realizes that I was scary the hell out of someone came back when I lived in Calgary, in my early 20’s.

The time I was mugged came when I was working at a Mac’s in Victoria, just after high school.

I have heard guys say ‘why should I have to go out of my way when they are the one’s with the problem?’

I answer, ‘it is called being a decent human being.’ Sometimes I despair at how few of those there are.

After I wrote this, Nadine Thornhill (without having heard it) reacted to my mention of it saying that it would go well with Danielle Gregoire’s Kent & Gladstone. She meant they were complimentary, but after hearing that I realized how well they went together structurally as well. I talked to Danielle and then arranged the two together as one piece. We performed it as a duo at the Capital Slam Semi-Finals.

The first ‘Copper Conundrum’ piece, which is something you will hear more about in the future. Watch for it!

    The Stranger

Sneakered feet fall heavy
On wet sidewalk, kicking
Aside fallen leaves from
Thier atumnal suicide ritual.
I step under a street light,
Shadows scurry for cover
Until I move past.
The young woman walking ahead
Turns her head, furtively,
Like and amateur spy dropped
Into cold war East Berlin.
She looks again
Then hastens her pace.
The gap stays steady as I
Top her by a full foot
So her quicked walk only
Matches my casual one.

Then I realize –
She is afraid of me.
How could anyone be afraid
Of me?
I am willfully gentle.
I’m more a threat to an
Unattended buffet than I am to
A fellow pedestrian –
Despite the late night gloom
And chill of seminal horror movies,
Or worse, city crime pages.

Then I remember the night I
Was mugged.
Two assailants and a wrench to the
Back of the head.
They wanted my bank deposit
And a parting kick to the temple.
It was over so fast – I was numb,
In shock, when I called the police.
The fear came on the next night.
Walking home from work at 1am,
My heart jack-hammering so loud
It drowns out the
Approach of my attacker
The I KNEW was coming.
I jerked and shuddered at
every sound or movement.
I felt the blow from the
Swung wrench a full day
After impact.
But nothing happened.
Nor the next night.
The fear abated.

But I am me and my non-consensual
Walking companion is half my size.
I learned that people are not
Carrying back pocket mechanic’s tools
In order to stage random
But what if they were?
To the young woman walking ahead
Every man might as well be packing
A Dirty Harry Peacemaker
With the intent to use it.

And mentally preparing against
Every innocent is better than
Being unprepared against the one
Who isn’t.

She looks again at her
Poetential attacker – the one
Who could show up as an artist’s
Sketch, if she is able to muster
Any description.

No one wants to be accused
Of a crime or the threat
Of a crime just for existing.
To be judged for your chromosomes
With no possibility of retort.
But that is a small loss
Compared to goign through life
As a walking target
As the world tries to thrust
The label of victim upon you,
By force of necessary.

I look at her
And do the only thing I can do.
I cross the street
Because nobody should have to
Live thier life in fear.


Next is about having a well intentioned, but culturally sheltered upbringing.

  1. […] been working on with the Copper Conundrum. It is fun to do older stuff sometimes. I did Library and The Stranger. They went over well and I ended up third (improving my season score a little and keeping me in […]

  2. […] set list: Why Art? The Stranger FN Moving to Arizona The Four Horsemen (debut!) Four-Colour World (debut!) […]

  3. […] the second round I new The Stranger. Now, I KNEW that wasn’t the ‘right’ piece to do. What was scoring well was […]

  4. […] move to Ottawa soon and will be ANOTHER welcome addition to our scene! I slammed, of course, doing The Stranger and Stroll On, finishing second, between Kayla (who won) and DMP. Good company. After the show, the […]

  5. […] the third round I was going to do The Stranger. It has always done well for me, but I pick and choose when I am goign to perform it because it […]

  6. […] the second round I decided to do The Stranger. The last time I performed it, it was probably my best performance of the piece. I was hoping to […]

  7. […] I had been doing three poems over and over before the festival. Once was Angst. One was The One For My Dad. The last was The Stranger. […]

  8. […] decided to with to The Stranger. It is on a different topic but connected enough that it would make me feel a little […]

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