Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Open mic, July 29

Read something new at last night's NoHo Poetry Open Mic-

Today the New York Times said that Poetry is dead.
I never even had time to tell Poetry that I loved her.

Today the National Enquirer revealed that Poetry is not dead.
Today the National Enquirer revealed that Poetry’s brain
was put into a state of suspended animation by The New Yorker in 1997,
and you can get secret messages from Poetry by playing
Sara Bareilles audio files backwards.

I want to play Poetry’s audio files backwards.
I want to tell Poetry that I love her.
I want to have Hot Poet Sex with Poetry
on the floor of T.S. Elliot’s kitchen.

Today, the Today Show said nothing about Poetry.
Today, Good Morning America said nothing about Poetry.
Today, Morning Edition was going to say something
about Poetry, but the piece got kicked off the schedule
at the last minute by a breaking story about Fracking.

I’m not sure what fracking is...
-but it sounds like something I’d like to do with Poetry.

If I die in a Flanders Field, I want it to be for Poetry.
If I strike out in the 9th with the bases loaded
plunging Mudville into a century of shame and despair,
I want to have been struck out by Poetry.
If two roads diverge in a yellow wood and I take the wrong one?
-I want to have been mis-directed by Poetry.

I want to produce the hot new cable show, Haiku Tonight.
I want to host the long-running television game show, Wheel of Sonnets.
I want to fund an NPR show called All Poems Considered.
I want Alex Trebek to demand in his next contract
that Jeopardy have a Poetry category every night,
-and I want to write the questions.

I want to tell Poetry that I love her.
I want to play Poetry’s audio files backwards.
I want to fuck Poetry until she’s completely satisfied,
and I want to lie there, exhausted, still wanting to give more,
to Poetry.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The (in)Correct Note-

Ripped this old poem open, put in a new transmission and upgraded the OS, and trotted the revised edition back out at last night's Open Mic-


As a child I spent a lot of my time
worrying about making mistakes-
I was that nerdy kid who forgot a homework assignment
exactly once in twelve years of primary education,
and then seriously contemplated changing my name
and running off to Canada rather than tell my
parents I’d been kept after school because of it.
It was Mrs. Winters’ 7th grade Social Studies class,
March 12, 1975, by the way, and the assignment
was draw an imaginary animal of the future
and describe how it evolved from a currently-existing animal...
Not that I dwell on it or anything.

As an adult I’ve tried to shake out of that habit.
I’ve worked very hard to feel ok about doing
things in ways other people see as wrong-
And I work hard at it because, of course,
when it comes to being ok about being wrong,
there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

“There’s really no such thing as the *correct* note”-
That’s a new self-help mantra
I’ve been repeating over and over to myself-
One evening recently
while attending a community theater production
of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance”
I watched as the lead soprano put that theory into practice.

Yes- there were some notes on the page
which Sir Arthur Sullivan had *suggested* she sing-
but the young woman seemed to take those
as an affront to her own ingenuity.
“Sure”, she was obviously thinking to herself,
“Those are the notes THEY want me to sing-
But I’ll show them!”

Did she have a point?
Ask any man who has put together a gas grill or
piece of IKEA furniture, and he will tell you-
instructions are at best a list of suggestions.
Yes, there were seven bolts, five nuts
and this oddly-shaped metal rod left over
when I finished,
but the grill fires up,
so how important could they be?

As the years have passed I’ve kept trying to hit
just the right note, and often missed,
and I’ve finally decided to take the advice
my high school guidance counselor gave me-
“If you can’t live your life as a good example for some,
at least proudly serve as a warning to others”.

There’s some solace in the fact that
many of art and poetry’s successes
spent their careers hitting the wrong note-
and one day people decided it wasn’t the wrong note after all
-and some of those artists and poets were even still alive to enjoy it.
But of course, many of art and poetry’s never-were’s
also spent their careers hitting the wrong note-
and in the end everybody just asked:
What the fuck was he thinking????

You play your notes and hope somebody else
will dance along with the tune,
and if you’re lucky, nobody throws tomatoes at you.
And you think the song will go on forever,
but of course it won't.
One morning people will wake up
and start talking about you in the past tense,
and when you’re in the past tense
you’ve walked through a door,
and you can never go back.

So lately I’ve begun to worry less
about right notes and wrong notes-
and I just keep hitting *some* note, like
that golden-haired Pirates of Penzance soprano;
she may have had Sir Arthur Sullivan
spinning like a top in his grave-
but even if she wasn’t technically faithful to the score,
her interpretation of it
was at least strikingly original.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014


I come here tonight to criticize Blue Man Group.
“All right”, I can hear some of you thinking,
“Has he ever seen Blue man Group?”
Well, of course not.
I HATE Blue man Group,
why would I want to -see- them?
It would be a gigantic waste of everyone’s time.

I come here tonight to trash Dan Brown’s novels.
It’s true that I’ve never -read- any of his novels,
why would I? They’re trash.
A certain red-haired literature professor I know says so.
My taste in novels may be lacking,
but my taste in red-haired literature professors
is pretty spot-on.
So I come here tonight to trash Dan Brown’s novels.

I come here tonight to share with you
my loathing for the seed of the Chia.
Growing up, I pestered my parents for one of those Chia pets
I saw advertised on late-night tv.
Seeing the seed of these noble animals
sold by supermarkets now is a bit confusing to me.
I’ve never actually -eaten- a chia seed-
going by what a Chia pet looks like,
I think it would be like eating the coat
of my neighbor’s pet poodle.
Or, if you are familiar with one of the Chia Company’s
slightly more disturbing popular products,
It would be like eating an old albino man’s fuzzy green fright wig.
To paraphrase the popular song lyric-
I’ll eat anything for love-
But I won’t eat THAT.

Ignorant disdain used to be a uniquely American trait,
but I’ve noticed lately that people in other countries are becoming
just as good at hating things they don’t understand as we are.
In a way that disturbs my competitive instinct.
On the other hand, a carefully cultivated contempt
for those things we find utterly inscrutable
does explain why everybody dislikes the French.

To hate what you don’t know anything about
remains one of America’s great contributions to mankind.
I know that viewpoint has its critics.
They go on and on,
in big, scholarly books that I’ve never read,
about how America’s founders,
like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and Benjamin Franklin
loved knowledge and understanding,
and valued everyone’s point of view.
Well I have one thing to say to those scholars-
Tom Jefferson and John Adams and Ben Franklin
would have happily joined me
in trashing Dan Brown’ novels,
loathing the seed of the Chia,
and hating Blue Man Group!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

A Spoken Word Poem-

My spoken word poem
is three minutes long,
 and into it I will scatter anecdote and wordplay,
metaphor and simile,
a sprinkling of adverbs,
and just enough of myself to sound sincere
while making the audience ever so slightly uncomfortable.

My spoken word poem will begin
by introducing the main theme of the poem,
cleverly mixed with a topical observation of the fact
that it is summer and damned hot outside-
that can of course be switched to winter
and damned cold outside later and well,
I guess I just won’t read the thing at all
in the Spring and the Fall.

With two minutes to go
my spoken word poem will get back on track
with an anecdote that sounds true but probably isn’t,
because the fact is
that if you are looking for facts in most of my poems
you might as well just go ask the cat,
and everybody knows what a liar she is.

With a minute to go
my spoken word poem will get
a bit muddled and confusing,
because it was four minutes long when I first wrote it
and I had to cut 20 lines late last night.
That was just after Terry found that stash
of purple microdot in a old Grateful Dead album,
and the rest of the night is a bit blurry-
I do know that it involved giant orange & blue carnivorous mice.
Around 5 a.m. I panicked
 and cut out all of stanzas 6, 7, and 8.
  I can’t remember what was in any them,
  - but they may have been important.

With thirty-seconds to go
my spoken word poem suddenly gets
Very. Very. Serious. And Quiet.
And I stand here hoping that my point was deftly made,
and driven home with eloquence and wit-
Leaving one remaining issue-
Where the fuck is my beer?