Sir, I’m sorry about the mess but there’s no need to throw me out of your fine establishment. No, just hold on a second and we'll work something out. How about I just sit myself down, order a drink and we discuss the situation. Yes, that sounds like quite a plan.
What’s your best red wine? ‘House wine’ you say? Well, that sounds very nice, yes I’ll take a glass of that. You said your name was Carl didn’t you? Well Carl, let me assure you that I am not a vandal. How about you slide that glass of delicious house wine my way and I’ll tell you how all this came about. What do you say Carl?
* * *
I suppose it was just about a month ago when the rejection letters arrived. The first, I believe from American Verse Quarterly, on Monday and followed in short order by a second from New Century Poets. Your standard artist might have been a little frustrated, what with two rejection letters in one week. Your run-of-the-mill artist might have taken this for a sign, a sign that he ought best find a new occupation. Your everyday, white bread artist just may have called it quits. But Carl, believe me when I tell you I am not your normal artist.
The third letter came, oh just about a week later. This one happened to be from The Patterson Review. Are you familiar with Patterson Carl? Well, allow me to enlighten. See, The Patterson Review happens to be the boorish and poorly edited literary arts journal published through Patterson City College. I know, a community college lit mag, is it even worth the paper to produce? Save a tree is what I say.
Anyhow, I knew upon submission that these blokes wouldn’t know a good poem if it landed at their doorstep. And of course that is exactly what happened. The rejection from Patterson was not a setback, no quite the contrary. If my work—my art—was not for them, well then it must have some merit indeed. If ever I desire my work published in Patterson, I will be sure to send a limerick.
* * *
Still with me Carl? Excellent, excellent, because here is where my story gets interesting. Here Carl, here you shall see that I’m more than your common, vanilla sort of artist. See, your typical artist may have given up. At best he would have continued submitting his poems, likely very bland poems at that, to journal after journal. And journal after journal would have said to him, ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ And maybe a city college monthly might have cut him some slack, but only if his work was just the most ho-hum sort of drivel. A true artist, an artist like myself, takes fate into his own hands.
I knew Carl, I knew I had to get my work out there. I knew my poems were meant for the world to enjoy. The question was 'how?' How, if at every turn I was rejected by dimwitted editors and below-average students posing as dimwitted editors? Well Carl, I have one word for you my friend: classifieds. That’s right, I figured to bypass the whole elitist literary establishment. I would have my poems circulated by the tens of thousands, delivered to people’s doorsteps, sold on every street corner. It would have been perfect.
It would have been perfect, but a ‘starving artist’ can’t very well afford a dollar a word. Not to mention the paper would have given me very little formatting input. So, another roadblock to be sure, but I would get my work to the people. Oh yes Carl, I would get my work to the people.
* * *
So Carl, why don’t you top me off? Well, of course I know there’s still half a glass left. I’ll tell you what, you can just charge me for a glass and a half. That seems fair, no? Now, as I was saying, my work had to find its way to the people. And as only happens in times of hardship, inspiration struck. Let me ask you this, where do most people get their reading done? No Carl, not the subway, though you’re close. The toilet Carl, on the toilet.
Public restroom stalls, they’re the future of literature. Nobody wants to read crude penis graffiti and phone numbers of tramps. People want substance and that is exactly what I provide. So you see, what was done in your men’s room was not vandalism, it was art. Please Carl, there’s no sense in calling the police, go ahead and put the phone down…no, I can’t just wash it off. I wrote in white out, I’d have to scrape it off if anything. But you don’t want me to do that Carl, trust me.
Think of the big picture. I’ve transformed your fine establishment into a forerunner of the new literary revolution. Likely, this joint will be made a museum in a quarter century or so. Be proud Carl, be proud. At the very least, you’ll one day sell the stall door to the Smithsonian. Think about it, this isn’t some dime-a-dozen literary movement. This is the real deal sir, and you’re involved on the ground floor. Carl, buy a lottery ticket because this is your lucky day.