Christopher Franke

Christopher Franke was born (1941) and raised in Lakewood, Ohio. He has been the editor of Everyman and founded Deciduous Press (1970). Besides his many broadsides and pamphlets, he has published these books of poetry: Title (CSU Poetry Center 1975) and Select Routines (Ptrint Press 2007). He is an avid supporter of poetry, a member of most Cleveland poetry groups, and a frequent reader at all Cleveland poetry venues and has read with orchestrated accompaniment. At one point, he worked off his jail time (for not painting his house) by doing Ďsocial serviceí reading poetry to fellow inmates, homeless, nursing homes patients, and others.



A Reading Poet
by Christopher Franke

A real bad bardó
Concurrent with
a movie of:
pimps, whores, and dopeó
Iíve been a fool in school,
& poet to pupils,
for money
and a plastic lunch,
& under a Ďprohibitioní
as though Pope said,
ĎDrink deep but not the dregs.í
And I have read
at a college or two,
for no credit.
--Not that Iím read.

Not that Iím read!ó
Iíve read my work
to the accolades
of jukeboxes
in bars; and behind bars,
in work houses,
like speech
were a breach
of security:
Iíve been
non in-
mate non grata.
Iíve read to the crazy
and had them laugh
where they shouldnít Ďof.í
Iíve read to the sic
and make them snicker.
Putting them out
of their misery,
to the bored,
Iíve read reams.
Iíve read to the ignorant
and been ignored.

Iíve read my poems
in a parking lotÖ
to attending cars;
and gone
to a junkyard or two.
My racecar poem,
Iíve read to soup lines.
Trailing off in a plethora
of lovelorn poems,
I have been at
the waterís edge,
the bridgeís moving
over head;
I have driven
the aged
off their rockers;
and put in a tizzy
a poet or two.

Iíve read
in libraries
to clutches of poets,
and in community centers, too;
in vain in churches,
in bookstores, and in justice centers,
to music, and dissent! At workshops,
I have found poems
quivering before Occam,
or in vises caught.
Like notches on a handle
they spoke of the drafts
through which poems
had passed.
Against theiróversions,
I progress.
To Ďcurb the doggerel,í
Iíve hit the roadÖ
and read on the street.
I have read to concrete and glass;
Iíve read to blossoms & to grass.

And then in coffee houses,
Iíve read to chess and talk,
above the mechanizations
of Cappuccino and Espresso.
Iíve read to writers writing while I read
who wrote on the backs of my broadsides.
And, also, Iíve read my poems
to bursting rooms,
to demimonde
and demitasse,
and to the volumes
on their shelvesÖ
at home.


A Clean Poem
by Christopher Franke

I put this poem in the bathtub
in all her verbal dress,
and while I was reaching for the soap,
her dress shrank,
and she popped right out of her metaphor.
She hit the ceiling like a champagne cork
and then splashed back with lost effervescence.
I grabbed her by a gerund
and scrubbed her where she itched,
behind her verbs and nouns,
washing away a few adverbs and adjectives.ó
I blush to think of what the verbs did,
and who the nouns were,
before their Reformation.ó
Then when I was sure the job was done,
I pulled the plug from the tub
and saw an erotic image go down the drain
as a ring of expletives remained
in a ring of do it
but donít talk of it,
and donít do it either.
And there stood the poem,
dripping wet, clean, and naked.

photo by Jim Lang