The mundane is where it’s at!

In his critical essay “The Mundane, The Existential, and The Poetic” sociologist Rich Furman fervently advocates for the poetry of the commonplace. In his essay, Furman explores how verse pertaining to “mundane objects, mundane events, and mundane relationships” are perfect vehicles to explore existential notions of nothingness, authenticity, and the “I-thou” relationship.*

His essay is an analysis and defense of the developmental process by which a writer of ‘extraordinary’ poetry becomes a poet concerned with enlivening and illuminating the ordinary. Furman examines “how paying attention to what is mundane” can help lead the poet towards confronting existential truths and a higher beauty.

Since we are also fierce advocates for illuminating poetry, and since our lives are really pretty mundane, Furman’s essay holds a special resonance for us. (Honestly though we are not such big fans of existential truths. They tend be pretty scary. We prefer our truths to be like rainbows, fluffy kittens, and Anne Geddes’ baby photos: heartwarming, pretty and dumbly sweet natured.)

We here at Mary figured there is no better place to unearth poetry that elevates the mundane, and exposes deep existential truths of “nothingness and authenticity” then the M4M missed connection section on Craigslist.

We decided to share with our readers a cross section of the free verse poetry found on Craigslist’s M4M list serve. Nothing says mundane like cruising for trade and love on 8th ave!
Your Bagels Sucks
By m4m (Astoria)

You were arguing with your friends that the bagel shop sucked, they weren’t having it…Before you got off I told you I agreed, you were hot and your pants were unzipped even hotter…I recommended somewhere for you to try. Where?…would love to buy you a bagel and try your kosher meat.
(Editor’s Note: This poem raises an interesting philosophical and religious query. Can a penis actually be Kosher?)

Christ sakes. Are there no tops in Brooklyn?
By m4m – 23 (burg)

Is it me,
or is everyone a bottom/cocksucker around here?
(Editor’s note: If this isn’t an existential cry into a dark , cold universe I don’t know what is. Simple and economic, yet imbued with a passionate visceral rage that contains multitudes.)

GMHC friday afternoon 9/18
By m4m – 28 (Chelsea)

I know this is the WEIRDEST PLACE to have a missed connection, and that’s why I wasn’t really conversational in the waiting room.
You asked me how long the process (HIV test) would take. You have a beautiful face, especially your profile.
I hope you got good news, like I did :)
Write and tell me what was connected to my bag…
(Editors’ note: While we find that smiley emoticons and the unadulterated anxiety of an HIV test usually don’t mix, this poem adeptly uses the absurdity of overbearing cheeriness to demonstrate the unyielding quest for solace in a pressure infused environment.)

I looked over and saw the biggest cock id ever seen what this you?
By m4m – 36 (nj exit 9 rest area)

I pulled up next to you at the rest area I looked over and saw you jerking the biggest cock id ever seen would love to see it again and work on it for you.
(Editors note: This poem exposes a horrible truth; once the mind has witnessed the uncanny it can never be soothed.)

To all the gays living at 23rd and 9th (sw corner of st)
By m4m – 29 (Chelsea)

I’m staying in a neighboring building for the next week. the last time I stayed here, i saw one guy watching gay porn on his computer; while two gay lovers undressed in the apartment next door to go to sleep. i’m hoping for a continuation of the show and possibly an invite to come visit you!
(Editor’s note: There is a strip of New York City that is less like a street and more like a horny buffet. This poem gives us a voyeuristic glimpse into that netherworld. The writer not only wants to attend the “show,” he also wants to invite the reader to the performance. The writer implicates the reader. The poet turns the reader into both a participant and a pervert. )

Sexy Juan HSBC Yonkers –
By m4m (Westchester)

Really sexy Juan the teller at HSBC in Yonkers.

I’d like to see you long, lean and nude.

I am one of your regular depositors
(Editor’s note: The” long lean and nude” stanza is beautifully taut. The double entendre of “I am your regular depositor” is deliciously naughty. This poem presents the reader with a milieu where commerce and love become interchangeable commodities)

The White Knight on Metro North
By m4m – 24 (Grand Central)

The nicest thing that’s been done for me in awhile was done this morning as I left the Harlem line Metro North train into Grand Central.

Stuck in a three seater row, dozens filed past to get to their jobs without a moment’s notice for the young temp anxious to buy some coffee before the daily soul-chipping subordination began.

And then you stopped the flow, and let me out.

You were fair, blond like Kansas wheat in summer, and aside from your slacks you were clad all in white. White shirt, white sweater with the word Soul on it (appropriate).

I smiled like a buffoon, and scampered off the train, thinking about Galahad the entire time. He was a Knight of the Round Table, a virgin knight (I have no illusions as to your own virginity) pure as can be, who defeated all he fought against, including his illegitimate father Sir Lancelot, ‘The Best Knight in the World’. King Arthur’s men considered him inhuman, as his feats and quests and demeanor suggested. When Arthur sent his Knights out to find the Holy Grail (trying to direct their Might to works of good) it was Galahad who found it. And in doing so, a magic boat appeared that he stepped on, and God took him away from us forever.

You see, when men attain perfection, they disappear.

So please, my Galahad, do something selfish today. I would like to see you on the train again someday.
(Editor’s note: The poet exposes the dangers of delusional high expectations. Wait till the poet finds out his “Galahad” is a married man from White Plains, who is a self hating drunk with a surreal ability to be both insecure and pompous at the same time. Trust me honey I’ve been there, you don’t want to go down that road.)

black guy on 19th & 8th
By m4m – 34 (Chelsea)
You were standing on the northwest corner talking to your friend in front of Starbucks; I was walking south and we caught each others eye…you said, “hello.” I kept walking but looked back. I would love to finish that conversation. Hit me up if you want to.
(Editors note: Hey! I think this is totally me you are talking about…You were so cute!!!! Send me an email to my MARY account and tell me what I was wearing, so I’m sure it’s you.)

*In his 1923 essay I and Thou (Ich und Du), philosopher Martin Buber posits that human existence may be defined by the way in which we engage in dialogue with each other, with the world, and with God.

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