Listen to the dramatic reading by Daniel Ari:
Friends, neighbors, word-wielders, rhymesmiths, rhythmeisters, sonneteers, odesters, villanelle villains, rondeau rebels, visitors and guests, oldtimers and newcomers, bosom confidants and strangers, townsfolk and peers—from Hutchinson Avenue to Point Sunhill, from Patzer Heights to lower 2nd Street—I hereby tender my apology for what has recently ruffled so many feathers vis-a-vis my behavior of last weekend and its neighborly festivities.
I have had time for soul-searching of late. About myself. About this town. About the deeds that seem to appear to have besmirched my good name as Poet Laureate of Sunhill Knolls.
I see now in retrospect, and with the clarity it brings, that my actions were not wholly advisable. You see, as Poet Laureate of Sunhill Knolls, I am also effectively Poet Laureate of Maple Square Park, where the past weekend’s fete bespangled the grass of the soccer pitch so graciously. ‘Twas a fair day for a faire!
And a faire is a fair day…to share!
I have come to understand that many people besides your humble Poet Laureate had remarks to make thereupon the open stage. And I see now that even those with little of worthy substance still had a right to express their need for attention on the open microphone. A faire, as a great poet once said, is a fair day…to share!
Naturally, people expect the Poet Laureate of Sunhill Knolls to recite at any Sunhill Knolls function; so it was strange—didn’t you think?—that the alderwoman, Patty or Betty something, blithely rambled on about…whatever that mess was…severely cutting into my recitation time. Naturally, I cleared my throat repeatedly and at increasing volume, as any self-respecting person would if they had been specifically chosen to see after the poetic culture and prosodic wellbeing of Sunhill Knolls.
That my opening remarks were hurried along by Mayor Burt was hurtful enough. Yes, that hurt, Burt. But then to have my signature piece as Poet Laureate of Sunhill Knolls—and of course I mean A Sunhill Knolls Rhapsody—unceremoniously halted midway through the twenty-second stanza—that poignant night scene on Slater Avenue—well, the insult is significant indeed, not just to the Poet Laureate of Sunhill Knolls, but to poets, laureates, poetry lovers, and laureate lovers everywhere—and even (it may be argued) back through the annals of time. It was an insult, for example, to Maya Angelou, to Robert Frost, to Emily Dickinson, to Omar Khayam, to Homer, and to George Gershwin, a fellow composer of rhapsodies!
The insult is beyond imagining, frankly, which is why (frowned upon as it has become in some local circles) it seems to appear to have been wrong for me, Poet Laureate of Sunhill Knolls, to have shouted down Mayor Burt and to have, when he kept talking over me, sundered and silenced the microphone for once and for all.
While I regret the damage to property in hindsight, any who were there in person must surely have been moved by the shower of sparks emitted by that antique amplifier when, pushed by the sole of my shoe, it toppled, broke open, and gave its last burst of light, sound, and energy. I think of fireworks. I think of steel mills. I think there are probably better amplifiers on the market these days.
Colleagues have since let me know that my voice carried majestically despite the loss of the PA system and that the epithets I cast at Mayor Burt, Alderwoman Whats-her-face, and all the members of City Council (though I only named Pat Timmins, Jonathan Wang and Erika Bayou by name) carried to the far corners of Maple Square Park, sending up a startled flock of starlings. And again, while it has been suggested that I should rightly disclaim the content of my vociferous statements, it’s also true that a poet’s booming and melodious voice is a thing of beauty, echoing forever. A silver lining, perhaps.
I have been notified that it is the damage to the amplifier, the microphone, the microphone cord, the microphone stand, the speakers, the speaker cords, the speaker stands, the lectern, the books on the lectern, the lip of the stage, the middle part of the stage, the back and side portions of the stage, and the bunting that has brought me here in the first place. That and the fact that the so-called “honorarium” tendered by the City of Sunhill Knolls to its one and only Poet Laureate comes to an amount far, far less than the amount required to repair or replace such items, even supplemented by the extracurricular income of said Poet Laureate. (I obviously devote such time to being Poet Laureate of Sunhill Knolls as to make earning non-related income quite impractical.)
So it is with a heavy heart that I am offering this apology to all those affected or impacted by my disoptimal (albeit justified) actions of the past weekend. I am sorry if you feel inconvenienced or impinged upon. I promise it will happen never again (assuming the provocation will never be as unforgivable).
Believe me, any feeling of upset you or any member of our city government has experienced is as nothing compared to spending a night in this bare cell on this flawed impersonation of a cot-bed. One bare bulb overhead. A toilet without even the benefit of a good book of poetry to read, there in a small basket beside it. Not even the small basket.
I have awoken stiff head to toe. The small consolation is that in the sleepless hours of the night, I wrote a crown of sonnets. It is paragon, I humbly admit. It is entitled The Sunhill Knolls Prison: A Poet’s Tale, which I believe will be welcome fare for your ears at the Patzer Heights Summer Fling next month.
In the meantime, rest assured that your Poet Laureate of Sunhill Knolls will not rest. My hand is over my heart, pledging you that the poetic voice of Sunhill Knolls is alive and well, and if all goes according to plan, soon to be free and among you once again. I have been reciting to the warden-officer here, and he continues to promise that my release should be imminent (though not in those words precisely).
For now and for always, I remain sincerely and poetically yours,
Maurnold X. Thurbin
Poet Laureate of Sunhill Knolls