A good poet is hard to find. We found a good one in Michael Brockley, who wrote for the first Facing Project, Facing Poverty in Muncie.
I serve with Michael on the Midwest Writers Workshop, and he was kind enough to join our team of writers on our first storytelling mission. Michael did an uncanny job of capturing the essence and personality of his storyteller, Hollywood.
Hollywood was shot and nearly died. As a result of the gunshot, Hollywood was left with permanent neurological damage. He walks with a cane, and the words that form in his head don’t always come out of his mouth when he wants. Hollywood has some amazing stories; it just takes him a while to tell them.
When one speaks with Hollywood, there’s a tendency to fill in the gaps, infer, or help him find the words. Hollywood has the words, the stories, and a big personality. What he needs is a good listener. That’s exactly what Michael is. By day, this mild-mannered poet is a school psychologist–aka a trained listener.
Michael’s ability to listen and his storytelling tool of choice–poetry–bring Hollywood to life on the page. Michael himself brought Hollywood to life on the stage. (Be sure to watch the video of Michael reading the poem.)
Whenever I hear or read Michael’s poem, Hollywood’s Poem, I’m reminded that if I want to tell someone’s story, I need to shut up and listen.
Some of my favorite Facing stories are poems because they capture moments uniquely well. Sometimes narratives try to sum up a life story from beginning to end when one simple action or one moment told in one sentence may tell someone’s story more than a decade ever could.
Without further ado….
(You Know. I Know. I Mean.)
Somewhere between what I think & what I say is what I mean. Old guns, knives with white handles & Hot Wheels. The $5.00 Singer that Cathy found. The heart of a ’77 Super Glide. I feed wild cats. A dog named Duke. Live without the words doing & done. You know I know what I mean.
Before the bullets, I was both-handed. A quarterback. A wrestler. Hollywood. Because of these Ray-Bans & Tony Manero threads. The Harley & ‘Vette style. Fast rides. A ’55 Nomad. Biker roads. Stayin’ Alive.
I was killed on Mother’s Day. 75 bikers in the ER gave blood so I could stand & speak like a man. I walked in a hamster ball. Like a baby. Said can for the first time again. Said do. I’m supposed to live 139 years.
I stock liquid soap on shelves. I help. Take day trips on my Harley trike. Red, white & blue. Pedal and handlebar fitted for a lefty. Someday I’ll find my book of Ohio adventures. Cathy asks why the college girls love me. I’m Hollywood. My life is guarded by eagles. I know you know what I mean.
as told to Michael Brockley by Hollywood