I was the honorary, guest host; Mary Panza is the usual Diva-in-charge, with El Presidente working the sound. There were 15 readers at the open mic sign up, some who had known Tom, but some who did not. That being in the spirit of all the open readings that Tom ever ran -- that the new poet, the virgin, was as welcome (some would say more so) as the crowd-pleasing old favorite. We had a pantoum (Therese's poem on
her daughter in the fitting room), vignettes (Jason Berkowitz's interview, & Dain Brammage's new "Pulse" with Keith), some political pieces (Chris Brodham, Katherine, back from Philly for a too-brief visit), a birthday/cyberspace poem (Nicole), even a new poet (Ruth Putnam) bringing some warmth to the cold night), many others, & of course the needed rant, "This is an Open Mic", Mary Panza wrapping up the night.
Interesting that the audience/readers included so many hosts of other readings that carry on Tom's tradition: R.M. Engelhardt, Nicole Peyrafitte, Dain Brammage, K.J. Spence, Bob Wright, Shaun Baxter & myself. Then, to the singing of Steve Earl's "The Revolution Starts Now", we (what was left of us, & then some) tramped to the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park, where Tom Francis scrambled up to place the green beret, with hidden duct tape, on Bobbie Burns' cold pate.
I read a couple of Tom's poems during the night, & would now like to end with a couple of his thoughts. His last poem was
Short or tall
And hanging in my house is a Christmas -- sorry, Holiday -- card Tom sent out one year: "Star Dust is Us!"