NB: Paper Cut Flophouse was a group blog that ran in the late aughts. Most posts were written by two contributors: me, using the pseudonym Roman Briton, and my friend Pompeston, the mastermind of the endeavor. This is a cross-posting of a post I originally wrote for PCFH; here’s a link to the original.
The old man got up to the podium. He said a few words before he read his two poems by the dead poet, the poet whose memory this reading was honoring. He said the dead poet would have been great without the disease. The disease that was the poet’s subject, a subject that spanned three books. He said he’d made this comment before to the poet’s companion, who was there, sitting in the front row. But where did this comment’s emphasis lie? I wanted to give this old man the benefit of the doubt, I wanted to believe he meant the emphasis to land on the “without” (I’m paraphrasing here, I think he might have actually said “hadn’t had”), meaning that the greatness existed regardless of the subject matter, rather than what it sounded like he was saying, what I feared he was saying, which was that the poet’s work had been hamstrung by the singularity of the subject. When he sat down, the air of the room shook with the sound of the old man’s sheaf of poems, which he struggled to cram back into his inside suit coat pocket, his hand shaking uncontrollably, a Parkinson’s tremor, his face locked in the expression of an old man’s revulsion at his own crippled body.