I may have a thousand hands but that doesn't make me a Bodhisattva - in fact, the only things my hands are good for are mundane things, practical tasks, not spiritual enlightenment. I use my thousand hands to play five hundred games of solitaire against myself and whenever I win the cards cascade like a waterfall of poker chips built by a fake Buddha. You see, I'm just pretending to have a thousand hands. When I'm alone, I amuse myself by shaking my own imaginary hands, slapping myself on the back one thousand times, squeezing my one thousand fabricated zits, picking my nose by shoving five hundred index fingers inside each of my gigantic nostrils. In short, I am a pretender. You should have stopped listening or walked out while you had the chance. You should have listened to Madonna. You should have told me where to go but it's too late now. As witnesses to my pretence you too are pretending to breathe, acting as if you are alive, wanting to believe that this is poetry and not some pathetic charade. I own one thousand llamas but each of them answers to the name "Scaramouche". This might lead you to believe that each of these one thousand llamas is in fact an illusion, a chimera. But don't be fooled - they don't call me a llama wrangler for nothing. Just like Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain I'm pretending to be a cowboy, willing myself to believe that I am in fact gay. I have one thousand gay friends. Some of my best llamas are gay. We are all gay, only some of us are pretending to be ambivalent. Scaramouche is the name of my favourite llama. Scaramouche may well be a Bodhisattva. Maybe in his next incarnation, Scaramouche will be reborn as a pretend llama, pretending to be gay. Or perhaps I'm just making that up. When I think of Madonna, I think of a thousand virgins who are not actually virgins. In fact, they are only acting like virgins. In other words, pretending to be touched for the very first time. If you ask me, all virgins are fakes. Or maybe I'm just pretending not to realise I said that last statement out loud. Either way, we're all as fake as cubic zirconias in a world that's full of rubies. Would you rather be a ruby or a cubic zirconia pretending to be a diamond? I predict that you will find my question puzzling, if not slightly odd. Who is this guy? Is his name on the program? I thought this was some kind of tribute to Madonna? To which I reply: even Madonna is pretending to be the Virgin Mary. And who knows, maybe she's fake too. I may have a thousand names but they all rhyme with the word "pretender". I write "request for tender", while at the same time resisting the temptation to return this pretender to sender. I'm a gender-bender. I'm bananas in a blender. I despise imitation fenders. Does that make sense? I'm a lover, not a mender. This poem has been rendered obsolete. I'd rather write "request for tenderness". I'm a beginner, not an ender. I like Larry Emdur. He's no pretender. He's the real deal. I should have told him while I had the chance. Instead, I'm standing here playing solitaire with your minds. Now I'm playing Old Maid. And maybe that's who Madonna's pretending to be. Old Madge, in a leotard, playing patience with the future. And she's losing every time. She should have called "barley" while she had the chance. But she didn't, and that's why I'm standing here pretending to be a poet tonight. Pretty good, huh? Not bad for a thousand-handed, llama-wrangling, solitaire-playing virgin from an island in the stream of consciousness. I may have no idea what's really happening here but at least I'm not pretending that it matters. It doesn't. Well, actually, it does. But let's pretend I never said that. In fact, let's pretend I never got up here at all.
First performed live at Liner Notes Volume 3,
Bar Open, Wednesday 20 February 2008.