June 21, 2007

Zounds! at the NightSky Cafe, June 20

(The photo is of James Schlett, the featured poet, at Caffe Lena in March.)

Our host, Shaun Baxter, started off the night with a couple of short prose pieces by Annie Dilliard.

It was a small & intense audience, the usual crowd, a couple of diners who wandered in & found poetry, some folks who looked liked they might want to read, someday, but today were content to listen. And I went first for the open mic, read Charlie Rossiter's "July 4th, in the Year of the Terror" from 2002, then my response, also called "July 4th (In the Year of the Terror)."

A.C. Everson will be the feature here next month (July 18th), with a pinata, she promises. Tonight she read "Camp Foster" about the anti-war rally in Albany a few years back, then a poem about fitting into old clothes, for Deb Bump.

The feature was Albany's poetry "enforcer," James Schlett (a reputation he earned one night at the Caffe Lena when a tedious performer when too long). James likes to do his poems from memory, with a folded cheat-sheet. His voice is quiet, & he recites quietly, meditatively, reflecting the mood of his poems. He writes about his walks in the woods, around lakes & ponds so there was a lot of water in his program tonight: Scarlet Oak Pond, Benedict Pond, a lake near his home, Fog horns off Lawrence Point, even Baptism, & an empty coffee cup, a poem subtitled Autobiography is titled Water Lily. Of course there was plenty of romantic pining for lost or distant loves in all that water. In between he read some prose journal entries that he calls "still-born poems," with titles like "Sublimation" & "Plunder" (which is about love), & a selection of his "Jersey Haiku" that are short, non-sensical, humorous poems to off-set his more serious work. James is very popular with the open mic regulars & such performances prove why.

Shaun Baxter reprised his poem to Goth poets (& this time I'll give the complete title), "Like the Undead They Crawl Out of Nooks & Crannies When They Are on the Bill." We like the rhyme!

Bob Sharkey gave us another chance to hear "The Over-turned Leaf," then an intimate conversation after sex "Incident on an Old Creaky Bed" that is an ageless battle of the minds that we men always lose when we think we win.

I think Pat Dyjak is trying to get to as many open mics as she can before she leaves for Utah & finds out there aren't any for 600 miles. So it was doubly nice that she read a poem, "Sounding," that is a tribute to people who listen to poetry. Then one from her past in Wisconsin, "Governor's Island July 1996."

Chris Brobham was laden with a string of those ultra-sound shots that serve these days as "first baby pictures," you know the ones I mean, where they have to have an arrow to show you where the baby's penis is (Congrats!). His sermon, I mean poem was "All Work No Play."

Mike was hanging out at the bar, scribbling in his spiral notebook & was coaxed by Shaun at the end to read something, & he dug up a story/journal entry about driving around somewhere outside of Barstow.

There were even poets (at least one) in the audience who didn't read! But no postcards tonight -- maybe next time, with the pinata.