In a recent essay for The Millions, a literary website, humorist Patrick Wensink — honoring April as National Poetry Month — wrote about his lifelong aversion to poetry. This is where Las Vegas comes in:
I once had a real-life encounter with a poet at 4 a.m. in a Las Vegas Denny’s. He leaned over the back of his booth, made some awkward introduction, and began reciting lines from a wrinkled paper about the haunting sound wind makes or some nonsense.
This encounter gave me an acute poet-phobia that lasted for years.
This poses a compelling question: What Las Vegas poet soiled this man’s potential to appreciate poetry? Genial Facebook speculation suggested at least one culprit: famed local poet Dayvid Figler, although one is hard-pressed to imagine him writing about the sound of wind.
Still, the bottom of this needed getting to, so we e-mailed Mr. Wensink for elaboration. Alas, he couldn’t offer much. “Boy, it’s a haze,” he told us.
“This encounter was probably 10 years ago, it was very early and I was drunk. It was the Denny’s on the Strip, kind of down by MGM, if I remember correctly. The poet seemed pretty unwashed and oblivious to our hints that we needed eggs at that hour, not poetry! In my head this guy had long hair.”
If that doesn’t get us much closer to knowing who the poet was, it does tell us who it wasn’t: Figler, probably ruled out by “unwashed” but especially by “long hair.” The rest, like poetry itself, remains an impenetrable mystery.