March 23, 2009

Third Thursday at the Social Justice Center, March 19

The poets drifting in early, the sign-up sheet filling. Our muse the anonymous Irish poet who wrote "Fair Cassidy,"
She passes by and I curse the mother
Who bore that daughter to torture me --

So our first open mic poet was the not-quite Irish Mary McCarthy, with a prose poem to her husband, on the Girl Scout cookies, saved like WCW's plums. Marilyn Zembo (O')Day read what she called a "pseudo-sestina" "After Viewing the Great Debaters." Jan Tramontano (at 2.5 on the list) read a poem for her father-in-law, filled with his last day's activities. I stumbled on the list & introduced Tim Verhaegen next who introduced his poem "East Hampton" with an anecdote about Paul Simon at the movie theater.

New name on the list, Rachael Ikins, & new in the area, read a villanelle, "Picking Berries with Dog & Swine." Alan Catlin returned us to the night's theme with "St. Patrick's Day in Hell" from the life of a bartender. In contrast, Don Levy's "So Many People Had His Lucky Charms They Are No Longer Magic" was a hilarious screed against the nuttiness of March 17.

The night's featured poet, Miriam Herrera, read a selection from her new chapbook, Kaddish for Columbus (Finishing Line Press, 2009), pondering the culture of "conversos" or the descendants of crypto-Jews in the American South West. "Ahuacatl," "Blessing the Animals" (mixing Christian images & Passover), "La Malinche" on the collision of the "new world" with the conquerors, back & forth with her sister in "Postmark Israel: To a Crypto-Jew," & ended with the opening/title poem, reconciling all the parts of herself. A very attractive, well-designed chapbook, but not nearly as attractive & compelling as the wonderful poems within.

After the break, I reiterated the single rule with my poem to Changing Spaces Gallery, "One Poem." Julie Lomoe read a recent poem on skiing, "Facing Down the Fall Line." "Like the last scrawny kid picked for dodgeball..." Kristen Day read a poem "No One Will Eat the Last Cookie." W.D. Clarke's humorous ballad was on greed & revenge, "His Nibs." Jason Crane described the day that "Aidan Arrives" & a ceramic pelican. John Raymond had an embarrassment of riches with an ex-girlfriend, "A Bird in Hand."

Bob Sharkey's "Another St. Patrick's Day Poem" was from 6 years old, as is the invasion of Iraq. Sylvia Barnard read a poem about her mother's funeral, "Last Farewell." This was the first time at the Social Justice Center for Rod Aldrich, who "tested" his poem "One Leaf" with images of leaves & of a bird, an ox-pecker (the things you learn at a poetry reading). R.M. Engelhardt read about his favorite topic, "Pussy Galore," but was briefly interrupted by a street-preacher who wandered in as if to save his soul (she didn't). Chris Brabham took a trip with his love, a "Vermont Voyage."

It was the first time here for Bless too, with his first poem that he ever wrote sober, "Jazz," done from memory, about leaving the toxins behind. Our last poet for the night almost held us here all night, as Moses Kash III went too long on a meandering ramble, starting & ending with a hymn, "It's Me Standing in the Need in the Need of Prayer."

Always lots of energy on the third Thursday at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., in Albany, NY -- 7:00 PM sign up, 7:30 PM start. Your donation supports the featured poet, other poetry programs of the Poetry Motel Foundation, & the Social Justice Center.