—or the disastrous 2012 bottling of
Talent Crush, Talent Crush Lite,
and Talent Crush Zero
We were seventeen souls strong
starting out, give or take a boob
or two: disenchanted, disappointed,
ragtag talents, bruised and bounced
from one too many bars and marriages
and corner offices with views.
Let’s all write poems, said the loping
charismatic one. I don’t know how,
said another. Will you show me? said
a third, and the one said, sure, and
hung a poem naked over the fence.
We all gathered round to admire.
None of us knew, I’m quite sure we
didn’t, that poetry is fertile ground;
it’s the ovulating womb of language,
and brushing up against true verse
unprotected is almost guaranteed
to birth baby poems.
That first stormy spring we hatched
and raised forty-seven poets, adopted
twenty-three, and by mid-summer
our pastures were bursting, our cups
running over with talent crush berry
bushes; and every new poem, as the
season wore on, though diminishing
in taste, swizzled and glimmered like
pop rock candy, and no one complained
or mentioned the degradation because
we were kissing and blissing and
drawing little smoochy hearts around
everybody’s work—and wasn’t it fun
to know we’re all one, ascending
together like bubbles in root beer,
in no-name champagne?
I can’t remember which of us
decided to bottle what we grew—
or maybe I do and I’m just not telling.
anyway, we called our poetic soda
Talent Crush and we sold it in liters,
half liters and full-on literal emperor
Buy your Talent Crush here!
Orgasmic, organic, fake as all hell,
it’ll quench your thirst for the time
it takes us to click like or suck your
money, whichever comes first,
and we’ll even publish your rot—erk,
I mean, your whirling, swizzling free
versing hooch in an anthology that’ll
only set you back forty bucks for
your own limited edition faux
leather copy, including
whip and gags!
Three of us poets became millionaires;
seven lost their homes, their families
and belief in themselves. The rest
drifted off, I don’t know where, and
rumours that some went blind and
mad from drinking what came to be
known as Kissy Blissy Smooch Hooch,
well, I never bothered following up.
What I can show you is the ground
where it happened—right here, look,
this charred and empty space.
Maybe all you see is silence; maybe
all you hear are the echoes of memories
of love at first sight—often short-lived
but no less true for their brevity—but
I can tell you straight that before we
started bottling and taking ourselves
so goddamn serious, epics took seed
among us; form poetry, old and ne’er
before seen the likes of, blossomed
like plum trees. Free verse ran like
baby chicks and knew no bounds.
Could you give me a hand here?
Feeling a little dizzy. Thanks…
Truth is, this poem may be the last
I ever write. The shakes are getting
worse, and I can’t pull up the happy
the way I could before the kissy
heart makers, the all-is-one fakers,
moved in and took over.
Oh, look, there’s a bottle tucked
under this old shed that somehow
survived the scorching. Talent
Crush Classic, the original!
There are even a couple of
drops left—prob’ly not enough
to get you off like the old days,
but you might feel a smooch
or two, an urging in your
nethers to put pain to rhyme.
© Elaine Stirling, 2012