Keith Snyder
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Intensely Mercurial Ray

Intensely mercurial Ray
wears a black turtleneck and beret.
A biting young thinker
and latte chain-drinker,
he comes here to write every day.

At the back of his favorite café,
he's quite striking with pen and moue.
He sneers at the fakes
who come in on their breaks
at the same &$*% time every day.

He'll never sell out his forté!
Nor despoil his muse in the way
of contemptible hacks
who don't sit in the backs
with a scowl and the roast of the day.

And so we leave brilliant young Ray,
to his genius and café au lait.
A national treasure,
with passion unmeasured,
he writes zero words every day.


That's to cop to the fact that I'm as guilty as everyone else. A few years ago, this deathless verse won me a limerick contest and a $50 bookstore gift certificate.

But reading Guyot's latest post and its attendant comments, my contrarian nature asserted itself. In thrall to it, I must ask (via the T-Mobile Hotspot at a Starbucks in Phoenix, on North Central):

Is this guy real, or just an easy stereotype to make fun of?

I've been writing (and composing, and editing video) in coffeehouses since around 1993, the glorious historical moment of the Powerbook 170. At first, I got interrupted by people asking "Is that a computer?" Now I'm interrupted by people asking what my MBox is. In that decade-and-change, I've encountered an increasing number of writers, some professional, some not, but none holding forth about the philosophy and, you know, being-ness of writing.

I'm usually pretty focused on whatever's on my screen, but I think I would have noticed an infestation of Intensely Mercurial Rays. No argument that writers can be obnoxious and pose-conscious; but how many are posing instead of writing, not just in addition to?

And how much of the ridicule is--as ridicule usually is--just disgust with the little Ray within?

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