January 3, 2016

Harmony Café, December 21


The host, Michael Platsky, of this weekly open mic at the Wok and Roll Chinese Restaurant in Woodstock, NY asked me to be the featured poet for this night. It’s always fun to come down here & meet up with old friends — nearly everyone who read in the open mic is a poet I’ve heard before & some have read in events that I coordinate in Albany.

Michael read first & his first poem, “Reality’s Well,” was perhaps a Catholic poem, then on to an old piece about smoking crack on the A train, & a sad piece on a recent death in Woodstock due to heroin. Roberta Gould began with a recent poem “Ready to Fall Off,” then “Haunted & Humming” (at the piano), & a poem to her dog “Best Friends,” followed by Lord Byron’s poem to his dog. Cheryl Rice’s first poem was titled simply “Dawn,” but her second poem was a bit more gross, “Inchworms at Opus 40.” Victoria Sullivan’s poem was seasonal & funny “To My Jewish Boyfriend at Xmas.”


The grand poetic elder, Donald Lev, who reads here every week & always goes before the featured poet, tonight read a string of poems, beginning with “December 21” full of peace & growls, then a piece about falling off a ladder, followed by “Riding the D Train” written by his late wife, poet Enid Dame; back to his own poems, “The Nature of His Crime” was about baseball gambler Pete Rose, a poem on Hemingway “Spanish Wine," a bird Haiku, & ended with “Poem” on poetry & Time.

photo by Dayl Wise
Then on to my reading, designed especially for the Woodstock audience. So I started with a favorite from the 3 Guys from Albany playlist (our first ever gig was here in Woodstock at the Tinker Street Bar), “On Reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead” complete with a Tibetan bell. Alison Koffler was in the audience & she has written a memorable poem about Coyote in the Bronx, so I read “Coyote 2” from my A.P.D. chapbook, Coyote: Poems of Suburban Living. Of course a poem from my new chapbook Gloucester Notes, then from a recent collection of poems by Jay Wenk, Larry Winters, Dayl Wise & me, Poems for Peace … Poems for Justice (Post Traumatic Press, 2015) “A.J. Muste.” On to a bit of levity with my poem titled “Garrison Keillor” which referenced another of my poems “trailer park.” I ended, in loving tribute, with Enid Dame’s peaceful seasonal poem “Holiday Poem,” which I so love to read this time of year.

Continuing on with the open mic Leslie Gerber, who runs a poetry series at the New World Restaurant down the road, read 5 poems, ranging from one about taking down an old building, to his dog, to revising a poem, as well as a couple others. Alison Koffler’s poem “The Museum of Isinglass” was a descriptive piece that felt like being right there in the museum shop, then she read a seasonal poem “February.”

Dayl Wise (in his new VA shoes) read a poem mixing the vast, poetic words in his house & a crow, then another about a dance & a shooter. The always-entertaining Ron Whiteurs performed a poem titled “Trumpeter Swans” a word-playful piece mixing horn music, Walt Whitman & Ottorino Respighi's "The Fountains of Rome."  Fred Poole read a lush prose memoir of the 1980s in NYC about drawing on a new pad with old pens. Lenny, who I had not heard before, read a poem titled “Old Age New Age,” then one on the Solstice & light, & a brief philosophical poem.

Shiv Mirabito, who is the proprietor of the Shivastan Poetry Ashram of Woodstock & who was on his way soon to India, ended the night with a poem just written at the bar, a memory of Italian Xmases past, “All I Ever Really Wanted for Xmas.”



If nights in Woodstock ever come to an end, this one did as I drove back to Albany, but I thank my Woodstock poet/friends for being there, & Michael Platsky for asking me back to read — they even paid me, which will go to my A.P.D. fund to publish poets.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

"Inch Worms at Opus 40"