View Full Version : Interview with a Dead Poet: Testament for an Atheist Messiah (and audio)

03-04-2015, 12:24 AM
Hat brim low on his brow,
his evaporated frown speaks impatience.

Would you look at the time.

"Whiskey for me."
I say thank you for the third time,
apologize for the fifth.

Go ahead, he says. Start.


"You're so bright, the pagan priestess calls you 'sun'."
.....She revolves - arms stretched, skirt swirling.
.....She hopes his light will land on her
.....so she might shine, too.

He bows his head. Dude.

First shot down. "One more,"
followed by thank you number four.

"You heal."

He denies.

Worn soles welcome followers down dusty paths.

This time he smiles.
.....In his footsteps they tread.

A high road/high tide joke
sneaks through his tight, poised mouth.
I take my next sip.
Burn my tongue on a pun.

What else do they say?

"They are reborn in the water you walk on."

He presses against a grin.

Not really.

"The point is that they think so."

I tell him his friends became saints
(of course they are; I was a tremendous pain in the ass.)
and wars have been fought over his words.
(did I not just say I was a pain in the ass?)

Did you know they pray to my mother?

"But your words..."
.....he whispers prophetic riddles into bent ears
.....bends perception.

They are only words.
.....And leaves a wake of wailing weeping swooning women.


"You don't mind the women."


One last shot and sorry number six.

"How do you like being a messiah?"

I got into this line of work for the words.
But I stayed for the martyrdom.

I nod.

and you know Lazarus wasn't really all that sick.

03-04-2015, 04:50 AM
Stew - I do love this! At turns humorous and truthful, and skillfully done. Great show.

03-04-2015, 06:09 AM
Thank you!

This one gave me fits. Glad it worked for you, Steppe.

03-05-2015, 02:16 AM
Very nice! I love a good heretical poem ;)

The line "they are only words" is what really struck me, overall. It's such a microcosm for life, poetry, religion, anything. Love it. Particularly in this context. Nicely done.

03-05-2015, 07:23 AM
Thanks, Sara. I'm glad you liked it. Truly. And thanks for commenting.

There's a lot I want to say about this one, but I'm holding back for now. Maybe tomorrow. :)

03-05-2015, 07:24 AM
I am glad that you shared this!

03-05-2015, 07:26 AM
I like to think that Jesus was a poet - or was hanging out with one. I thought this was amusing, not lol but kinda funny . . . not sure & will read again later. Thanks for posting this!

03-05-2015, 11:31 PM
Thank you, Mag and CB.

This was a huge challenge to write and I'm really pleased with the outcome.

Sara, it can apply to many things. I've been told that by several people, which made me happy.

I really wanted him to be a creative type, though, perhaps because that's where I relate to it most.

Some people got hung up on the "atheist messiah" bit. Heretical or not, it isn't so hard for me to imagine this as perfectly legit (and if you could take a poll of messiahs - oh goodness that made me laugh out loud just now! - I bet most of them are atheist). Really, who wants to be a messiah? You can believe in the work you do without believing you need to be worshipped, right? I mean, it seems far worse to me to believe in the "church of my righteous self" than to have a bit of a self-esteem issue. If I was a messiah, I wouldn't believe in me, and I'd question the sanity of anyone who did. :) I'm poking fun at this I know, but the point stands.

I almost made him a reluctant messiah, but he would have still been complicit even if reluctant, and reluctant isn't far enough.

As it relates to poetry and martyrdom - creator killed by its creation. People prescribe intentions, then they set expectations, then they demand pieces - blood or brains or soul - he doesn't belong to himself anymore and a persona takes over. On a bigger scale, of course, there aren't many poets out there with large followings, but I wanted this one to be.
Also, I really wanted him to be dead, well for lots of reasons, but just the act of interviewing him indicates that he's resurrected, which I happened to think was fun.

and Sara, "only words" was the one line that nearly choked me to write, btw. :)

SO I guess that's what I wanted to say about this one. It was really difficult, but I think worth it, even if it can be interpreted and adapted to so many other things.

Thanks for reading !!!

03-06-2015, 07:56 PM
I really enjoyed this. I wasn't sure if it's a poem or a flash piece, but whatever it is, it's new and I like it. I wonder how he pulled off those miracles? Maybe his followers were drunk!

03-06-2015, 08:06 PM
I worried about it being flash, but decided I'd used enough tools from the poetry toolkit to pass.

03-10-2015, 09:32 PM
Trish, have you recorded this piece? I'd love to hear it.

It would be fun to get a second voice to be your dead poet.

03-11-2015, 03:59 AM
I planned on recording it. But the voices...well. i'm not an actress and i wonder how it will translate.

03-11-2015, 04:18 AM
In my view, poetry readings are usually best if you simply read with a bit of color in your voice, but underplay the acting. I've been to a few readings where the poet acted out a poem as though it were a play, and though it worked occasionally, it usually ended up being more irksome than effective.

That all said, yours is a special case, and it could well be one of the ones where some acting works. And I do think it might be interesting hearing a version with a male voice doing the messiah. It is a pity William accidentally killed his voice actor; you could have borrowed him.

I have to resist the urge to overdo my poems when I read them aloud. (I was a drama club geek in my day, and did a fair bit of acting in high school, college, and little theater.) I try to keep my poetry readings to a bit of color and shade, but I'm not sure I always succeed.

03-11-2015, 05:41 AM
I was more worried about the overdo than the underdo (re: the acting).
The voices are just so distinctive. I'll have to practice a lot.

Yep...too bad William had to get all kill-y.

03-16-2015, 10:36 PM
EDIT: I re-recorded. I think this is better.