Writing Workshop

Writing Workshop
by Nathaniel Kostar
I was in a writer’s workshop yesterday
In the back of a cold café.
I didn’t have the money for a coffee or tea
But I didn’t care for one anyway.
The writers were from England and Ireland,
New Zealand and the States.
And after a few moments of chatter
I could tell that none of them had any guts.
There was something in the way they held their shoulders;
They were timid.
You wouldn’t want them on your side if someone tried to rob you in the night,
Or if a tough guy in a bar called your girl a whore or slapped her ass.
And in my opinion, though I may be wrong, a good writer should be able to get his hands dirty
From time to time.
But there was one guy who looked a little rough,
Like he could throw a few back,
Like he wasn’t there to be polite and sip his coffee.
I hadn’t read his work yet, but I assumed that if there were any good writers in the group
He was the one.
At one point the workshop took an interesting turn;
An overweight blonde girl accused my rough-looking pal of plagiarism.
She claimed he had stolen the idea for his story
(Though the idea, to me at least, sounded pretty universal).
She began her accusation by saying “I’m not trying to be a bitch”
And then proceeded to be just that.
I had in fact read her stuff; it was truly terrible stuff.
And when I read it I thought about telling her to stick to reading,
Join the gym or learn to dance.
But being new to the workshop, it was not my place to intervene.
The argument that followed was short-lived,
(The tough guy proved to be not so tough after all,
Though he handled the situation quite tactfully)
And for the rest of the workshop I watched two pretty waitresses come and go.
One wore a black skirt over black stockings,
And the other, skin tight jeans and heels.
They both had long seductive legs and night-black hair.
I wondered how the owner had managed to get these two girls
Into a freezing coffee shop in the old part of town,
And if he sold any more lattes because of it.
I bought a latte.
Then, for a moment I considered Bukowski.
I thought about how he detested workshops
And if he were here now
He would more likely than not
Tell everyone to go to hell
And do what I had wanted to do the whole time;
He would flirt with the waitresses in the heels.
He would tell her that she’s pretty, perhaps beautiful,
And that while any fool could work
It takes a real woman to go home with a stranger in the middle of the day;
A woman who understands herself, who understands desire.
He would say he has an apartment not far from here with a functioning heater,
A cabinet overflowing with wine
And no one to drink it,
And most importantly, he would say
Poetry has taught him how to make love to a woman perfectly.
This last statement, of course, would be a lie,
But it wouldn’t be timid
And it might lead to something true.

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