Poetic Justice

My glass is filled with vodka, although I usually drink red wine. I’ve logged on to Zoom for the poetry open mic, and I’m sweating in the virtual waiting room. I take a swig, hoping the liquid warmth will burn away the doubt in my throat.

I run my eyes over the poem checking that there are no words an American audience might find unfamiliar. I once wrote a story about a ‘magic jumper,’ and after I read it out in a workshop expecting feedback on plot or characterization, all I got were questions about ‘the jumper.’ Was it a rabbit? A suicidal person? Of course, it was just a sweater that could change your mood.

I’ve lived in Connecticut for fifteen years, and I joke I’m fluent in American. I call football-soccer and trousers-pants. I ask for ‘to-may-to’ in my sandwich though I refuse to say ‘erb, and I still struggle with the pronunciation of oregano and aluminum.

I’m brought out of my reverie before I can start down the dark hole of eggplant instead of aubergine by being let into the Zoom.

When it’s my turn, I smile and read from my notebook. I feel a rush of adrenaline as I deliver the last line. I’m not expecting a standing ovation, but I was hoping for a thumbs up or some silent claps but instead crickets. My screen looks like The Brady Bunch if they’d all been forced to watch C-Span for a day. Had I chosen the wrong poem? I’d replaced the crude Anglo-Saxon word from my title but they are obviously not ready for even, ‘Ode To My Vagina’? I chug the vodka hoping it looks like I’m taking a large gulp of water. Then in the chat, I see someone has typed, “you’re on mute.’

As always, thank you in advance for your kind consideration.

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