Alan King

by Best Poem

Etiquette
AWP NYC 2008

As if possessed by rabid demons,
you watch them kick and punch
the air, awkward as toddlers –

a martial arts class for beginners?
No. Writers dancing on the last

night of the conference – shaking
the ghost of professional etiquette
before returning to their lives

as book award recipients and professors
at prestigious writing programs.

Could the strained expressions mean
poets struggling to break James Brown
down to iambics, while the fiction

folks are more interested with
the narrative plot of ‘Funky President,’

or lack there of? And as a kid,
you grew up denying your superheroes’
weaknesses. But what do you take away from

the sight of those idolized, and once known
as just names on book spines lining

your shelf – literary heavyweights reduced
to a gang of babbling drifters, or kung fu stunt
artists fighting off imaginary muggers?

Alan King’s fiction and poems have appeared in the Arabesques Review, Warpland, The Amistad, and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS, among others.  A Cave Canem fellow and Vona Alum, his work was also part of Anacostia Exposed, a collaborative exhibit with Irish photographer Mervyn Smyth that showcases the life and energy of Anacostia.

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