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Crocker! Natty and Me

By Dan Crocker May 2, 2013 - 4:45 PM print

            Author's Note: I'm a little late on my final column for National Poetry Month, but I was unable to do it last week due to circumstance beyond my control. So, if you'll bear with me, will finish it up this week. Now, May is also the cruelest month.


Natty and Me*


            I was first introduced to Nate Graziano one night after I got home from a bar. My wife said, "Some drunk asshole called." It wasn't the first time some drunk asshole had called, but I was still curious.

            "What'd he want?" I asked.

            "He said he liked your poems," she said.

            "He can't be that much of an asshole then."


            He had left his number, so drunk myself, I called him up. There's nothing a writer likes more than someone who is going to tell them how good their writing is, even if that person is bat shit insane.   Nate wasn't insane, but he did sound like a real asshole. I later discovered that's just how people from New England sound. You can't hold it against them.


            "I really licked your boob," Nate said.   I speak fluent drunk, so I understood what he meant. He liked my first book,   People Everyday and Other Poems. Although I don't really like that book much anymore, it's still my most successful one. Over ten years later, I still get emails about it now and again.


            "I have a book coming out, too,**" Natty said.


            Of course, I thought, all the drunk assholes who call me have a book coming out. This was different, however. Nate's book was being put out by my publisher at the time, Green Bean Press (now defunct--we're pretty sure our bad sales put them out of business). So I asked him to send me a copy. He did, and it was excellent. Nate and I kept in touch after that--mostly through letters because that's how things were done in the small press before email and Facebook. When I'd get a small press magazine in the mail, I'd always check to see if there was something in there by Nate. If there was, I'd read it and write him a note to let him know what I thought about it.

            Then one day our editor, Ian Griffin, decided that he and Nate would drive to my new home in Michigan to visit. We'd set up some readings,etc. Sounded good to me. When Nate showed up in his James Van Der Beek shirt and carrying a case of Natural Light, I knew I'd finally met my soul-mate.

            We were young men with our first books. We were going to be writers, dammit. We had all the optimism, energy, bravado and piss in the wind fuckitallness that only young writers can have. We were soon brought back to reality.

            Our first reading was actually a book signing. That is, the authors show up, sit down at a table that has some pre-ordered books on it, and people are supposed to come get a book signed, take it to the counter, and pay for it. That's what they are supposed to do.   What happened is that the powers that be stuck us in the cooking section of an already empty store. Seriously, besides us, the only folks in their were the workers.

            To say the least, we got a little nervous. We wanted some beers. We decided to sneak out, and we did--right behind the manager's back, but not before we signed all of the pre-ordered books so that she couldn't send them back. We ran, literally ran, straight to the bar up the street and a lifetime friendship was forged.   Over the years, we've done a lot more readings together, and they just keep getting worse.

            We're a lot older now with responsibilities and kids (mine nearly grown). Still, even though I live in Missouri and Nate in New Hampshire, we get together every few years and do some readings. The readings, of course, are just an excuse to go to dive bars and pretend we are young again. It's a chance to get back some of the bravado that goes missing after about 30 or so. In fact, we've written a book, Oprah Recommended, about our readings, writings, etc. It takes us from young men who think they're going to be "famous" poets to middle-aged men who no longer care. Mostly, however, it's a book about how men form and keep friendships. It'll be out in the Fall from Alternate Current Press. It's pretty damn funny.

            Every writer needs someone they trust to look over their work before they send it out for publication. That person also has to be willing to do it, sometimes at 3 in the morning. Nate is that person for me. These days, when we get together on Skype or whatever, we seldom even talk about writing. We're tired of talking about it after all of these years. We'd rather just do it. Instead, we talk about important stuff--like who is the toughest Duke Boy and whether or not one could lose weight eating nothing but sausage.

            Despite glaring cultural differences--Nate didn't know what biscuits and gravy was until I made it for him, and I can't understand why he won't just fucking pronounce his Rs--our friendship has endured. Here are some poems from our alter egos, which somewhere along the line merged with who we really are, Natty and Cracker.

Click for Graziano Story.


Click for Crocker Poem.


Sound is a bit messed up on this one.

And finally, the best one that has a video to it:


**Translated from Drunk.

*Yes, this was all to get you to buy our new book, Oprah Recommended, coming this fall.

Also check out:

Like a Fish.


Honey, I'm Home.


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