The Poetry Project

GRIEVANCES: Roberto Montes


compiled from the social media of Roberto Montes
Dialogue isn’t inherently helpful

You don’t have to talk

To those you don’t want to

I was at a reading once

With a poet who’s In It to Win It

I never had a good experience with
this poet

But I tried to be polite

I have difficulty controlling my facial

But I hope I was polite

During the reading the poet who is In
It to Win It

Kept snickering with their friends

Conspicuously playing on their

While other poets were reading
The In It to Win It poet

Like all In It to Win It poets

Affected the demeanor of a literary

A romanticized literary figure

From a past that never actually

Part of that is showing contempt
where you can

For particular people


Those who are unable to help you in
the way they want

And there is only one thing they want
They want to Win

At this reading the In It to Win It

Snickering and fumbling continually
distracted me

They were somewhat considerate by
sitting in the back

But they were still noticeable

I’m unsure if this is obvious by now

But I am a person with many feelings

In this particular instance

I was pretty angry

And drunk

As the In It to Win It poet

Continued to ignore the readers

I became angrier and angrier

I am a quiet person

But a loud poet

So when it was my turn to read

I made sure to yell in their direction

Even facing directly at them

They did not deign to pretend

To pay attention to the reading

They were a part of

Which angered me a great deal

And I admit in my pettiness

When it was their turn to read

I furiously devoted my attention to
my phone

I didn’t snicker with anyone

Or whisper loudly

But I poured myself into my phone

Filled it with my anger and pettiness

After the reading

I spoke to the poets I admired

Who were

Like most people

Very polite and gracious

The In It to Win It poet

Didn’t really join our group

They had their own

(They always do)

It was a positive experience overall

Though I was somewhat ashamed of

That I allowed someone to affect me

in that way

The next day

The Poet who is In It to Win It

Messaged me on Facebook

With a generic

“It was an honor to have read with
you [...]”

But I stopped myself before reading

Because something occurred to me

Something brilliant and terrible
occurred to me

I didn’t have to talk to this person

There was literally nothing in poetry

That compelled me to communicate
with this person

And join in the fiction they were
offering me

That they were not exceedingly rude

That one must still maintain ties at all

Because you never know when
opportunity might arise

And like all of those who are In It to
Win It

This individual had their own thing

They offered people

It’s always a reading series

Or a poetry series

Or a journal


And so much of the poetry community

Depends on us

Opening lines of communication

With those who can offer opportunities

Regardless of who those people are

This is what’s known as

“Being positive”

It occurred to me at that moment

That I did not have to “be positive”

I am someone who hates confrontation

So I did my duty

I was polite at the reading

Other than when I furiously tried to download

minesweeper on my phone

But this second step

This engaging with someone who’s In It to Win It

It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it

It was that I didn’t have to

In fact

The whole ordeal had nothing to do with poetry

And yet how often

We allow ourselves to believe

Roberto Montes’s latest book is Grievances, The Atlas

#254 February / March 2018