Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"The League of Minor Characters" by Kathleen Flenniken

On my computer, I keep a folder of poems I like, and I thought it would be fun to pick one at random and share it:

The League of Minor Characters
by Kathleen Flenniken

The main character sits on his childhood bed
naming everything that's gone—ex-job, ex-wife,
ex-best friend-and finally apprehends

the breakdown we've felt coming since chapter five.
When his doctor calls with test results, most of us
decide to remain minor characters

like the quixotic neighbor growing
bonsai sequoias, or the waitress with thick
glasses and a passion for chess,

because the main character, in the thrall
of a relentless plot, can't help hurtling toward
the crumbling cliff edge. And who needs that?

Some inherit genes from generations
of minor players, some must learn to guard
those sunny Sundays with the paper

full of heroes in distant gunfire. And some of us
who've gotten smug over the years turn another page,
turn on the football game, until one day

the doorbell rings. We close our books,
adjust our eyes, and the protagonist
sweeps in insisting himself into our lives

with his entourage of lust and language,
sorrow, brio. Hero, anti-hero, it hardly matters
with the lights this bright. The music crests

and it's time to speak.

"The League of Minor Characters" by Kathleen Flenniken from Famous. © University of Nebraska Press, 2006.

More information about Kathleen Flenniken.

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DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.