Mom would've called
them, with their jeans
tight as grape-skins, their shirts that halt
above the diaphragm, baring table-tops
of brown belly, and
the glint of navel-rings.
Their fuchsia lips would give a bee heart-failure
as, raised on high by platform shoes,
their eyes, in purple
shadow, scourge the air.
Their waists careen into the smooth flare
of hips. Their breasts precede them
as sirens do fire
trucks. "Pull over," they scream.
"Check me out for free." Then, "Don't
you dare!" They (the girls) prowl malls
incinerating with their scornful stares
the racks of clothes they can't afford,
the clucking women, gawking men, yipping
packs of kids who
drag young mothers down.
By sheer defiance, the girls fend off that Fate
while moms out buying clothes for their sons
tense their lips the
way mine did, and clutched
her heart, watching me man-handled, dragged
into bondage by my bulging eyes.
I want my poems to
be, not only as well-written as good prose, but as compelling.
In the battle for people's attention, I want my poems to win. I
write accordingly, using every ounce of poetic craft,
imagination, wit, skill at observation, and psychological acumen
I possess, and leaning hard on my own sense of what's exciting,
dramatic, emotionally charged. Boring art is bad art. If a
reader says "Huh?" or "So what?" about a poem of mine, that
reader may have failed me, but I've certainly failed that
reader. I write to do for others what my favorite writers do for
me: rock my socks off, and change—for the better—my world.
Webb's book AMPLIFIED DOG won the Saltman Prize for
Poetry and was published in 2006 by Red Hen Press. His book of
prose poems, HOT POPSICLES, was published in 2005 by the
University of Wisconsin Press. Recipient of grants from the
Whiting and Guggenheim foundations, he directs Creative
Writing at California State University, Long Beach.