My nostrils twitch
when I enter the bar.
Leather. Sweat. Freon. Perhaps a cigar.
Bards with beards and bears with beers.
The colors of fur, but no chandeliers.
Bears are reading in old New Orleans.
Odes to the hirsute.
Whatever that means.
From the book Hibernation,
an ursine fixation.
One hundred choices
of masculine voices.
But poetry scares me, I say to the bruins.
Meters and octaves.
What the hell am I doing?
Hey! Diddle Diddle.
Your eye is a fiddle.
A spray of black hair on a chest.
The bulge of a bicep. A muscular bubble.
Bear poetry isn’t a riddle.
But I am no bear, I do so declare.
Still they unbutton my shirt,
and feel up my pelt,
oblivious to my new pink ribbon belt.
They grope and they woof in both of my ears.
Rhyme master ursa whispers nothing to fear.
I’d come to Saints and Sinners,
to eat and to drink
and to take my craft higher.
Not to write bear poems of manly desire.
But being a writer means taking a risk.
So for days I did slave.
And with words did I play.
Soon as I wrote it, I had a good shave.
For more about Rich’s trip to the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans, visit his website.