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Poetry Reading After-Action Report 2/11/2011

Last night's poetry reading was a lot of fun. The coffee shop was fairly crowded. Some of the crowd was readers, but a large part was a small army of sorority girls from Sigma Kappa at the back of the shop. They were right behind the microphone where the poets read.

Jonathan gave the usual plug for Iodine,his poetry magazine,when he got up to the mic. As usual, he had some promotional bookmarks. He turned to the sorority girls and said "Hey girls, want some bookmarks?". Before he started distributing them, he turned back towards the audience and gave a wink and a big grin. He didn't actually say "chicks dig free bookmarks" but it was written all over his face.

Jonathan said that Iodine was available at the UNCC library, and then went on to point out that the UNCC library had more books than any other library in the state. Again he turned to the sorority girls. "How about THAT, girls?". They cheered.

Jonathan was in rare form.

I almost hated to read after his interaction with the sorority girls. Think Delmore Schwartz following a vaudeville act.

I had three poems. One was a memorial haiku for Gerry Rafferty, who actually died before the last poetry reading. I can't believe his demise slipped under my radar. The haiku makes more sense if you have seen Reservoir Dogs (and know that Rafferty was in Stealer's Wheel).

Gerry Rafferty
Your songs will live on
We'll remember your music
To sever ears by

The next two poems both had a Valentine's day theme. The first one was a rather cynical blank verse poem I wrote several years ago, but I'm pretty sure have never had public consumption, either on the web or at a poetry reading.

Valentines Day

The month of February’s very good
For flowers, when it comes to sales, but bad
For them in nearly every other way.
The tender petals of a rose don’t stand
Up well to winter chill and frigid winds.
They’re often crushed by February frost.
Consider roses in a crystal vase
Left by a lady’s door by one who wished
To win her heart. They wait for her to save
Them from the ravages that winter brings.
Alas, they wait in vain. You see, they’re not
Her only gift. Another suitor (more
well-heeled) has bought her airplane tickets to
A warmer place where they will have a brief
But fiery tryst. She’s only gone a day
or two but that is long enough. On her
return twelve dead frost-bitten roses greet
Her in a cold and bitter welcome home.

Finally, I read a poem called A Dinosaur, which at first appears to be about a dinosaur, but is actually a somewhat whimsical love poem. I wanted to clear the palate after the cynicism of the previous poem.

A Dinosaur

A dinosaur once roamed the earth. It slept

And ate and pooped like other beasts until

The coming of the asteroid that led

To it's demise. Don't think me rude because

I mention poop. The dinosaur's been gone

For years but still its poop lives on. As time

Went by it fossilized, became like stone

Until retrieved by clever artisans

Who made it into jewelry that I give

To you my love. Don't think me rude because

I give you poop. Behold the craftsmanship,

The polish, the embedded precious stones.

Appreciate the beauty that a turd

Can have and maybe that will help you find

The value in a little shit like me.

After the reading, my friend Gilbert asked if he could have a copy of my Dinosaur poem. He said it might come in handy if he is ever in a relationship and makes his girlfriend angry. That was probably the best compliment I've ever gotten on one of my poems.

And really, what is courtship but a man asking a woman to "find the value in a little shit like me"?