Begin Again


Some night way back
in the catacombs of my childhood
my parents took me to some poetry reading
in some failing bookstore
on the poor side of Abbot-Kinney.
Family, friends, or family friends:
somebody we knew was reading,
somebody we knew was wasting my time.

Anyway, our whatever read and then another guy came on.
He was middle-aged and soft-spoken,
a sweater-vest and bald spot.
When his name was announced
the absence of applause embarrassed us all.
The rest of the “poets” were wrapped in well-wishers, encircled
by thin grins and obliged approval;
but this guy
had nobody
and nobody
had heard of him.

He crept up to the microphone, breathed too heavily into it, and then
meekly apologized. He couldn’t look directly at the audience.
He stared straight down as if he were performing an intense study of his shoes, until his hands –trembling like a junkie’s- unfolded a piece of paper and he began to read.
I already hated the pathetic son of a bitch.
He was reading some poem and then he got to the one part
I still remember.
He just kept repeating the words:
Begin Again. Begin Again. Begin Again. Begin/Again. Begin! Again!
Over and over, for nearly ten minutes.
He read it with so much passion, so much feeling, it was comical.
Despite myself, I actually started to laugh out loud,
first very softly, but then louder and louder.
So I faked a cough
and ran hysterical out of the store.

For months me and my dad would joke about that man.
Repeat his poem
and laugh like titans
all over again.

And yet, a decade later,
in a hospital bed, desperate, alone
completely at a loss
for anything to say/think/do
to my greatest surprise
I started to mutter/speak/chant
the only thing that came to me:
Begin. Again. Begin. Again. Begin. Again. Begin. Again.
And then I finally understood
where his hair had gone, how his gut got soft,
how some poems are art and how others are prayers,
the origins of cowardice, and the gradual nature of death.

Begin Again

Alexander Marshi

Joined March 2008

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

10% off

for joining the Redbubble mailing list

Receive exclusive deals and awesome artist news and content right to your inbox. Free for your convenience.