Avery and Jacky K at Caffe Lena

Caffè Lena Poetry Open Mic, July 3

This Blog almost didn’t get written — I’d gone away for the weekend & didn’t get a chance to write the Blog, then when I got home, couldn’t find my “Reporter’s Notebook” in which I record these readings.  But there it was, at about the level of Troy IV, buried on my desk. This was a warm Summer night in Saratoga Springs, but cool enough at Caffé Lena. Our host, Carol Graser, welcomed us with a poem by April Bernard.

Todd Fabozzi was up first with a couple of pieces done from memory, one on climate change, “Wake Up” & the other “Contentment.” Jackie K. read a poem titled “5:49PM” from a Led Zeppelin record marathon with friends, what sounded like free-writing filled with memories of youthful sex.

Tim Sneider recited a couple of his popular biker ballads, “Beer,” & the familiar “Down at Scully’s East.” Carol Schupp Star was a new voice for me, read a poem for her husband, then another about childhood memory. Another new voice, Andy Kazukenu, read a couple of holiday poems in rhyme, one on fireworks as flowers, the other about Benedict Arnold.

Fresh from his recent feature at McGeary’s, Avery was the night’s featured poet, with a mix of pieces, most delivered in his signature overly dramatic performance style, beginning with a white-boy rap pounding the repetitive rhymes on “creativity” in your face “Walking Life’s Paths.” Then on to a crow poem & one on finding a childhood homemade sword. “Plate of Soy Chicken Marsala” was the first of the pieces delivered like those hard-sell commercials that come on too loud late-at-night (“… another fine Popeil product…”); the others were a poem about a mantis shrimp & “the Smile poem” (“From Me to You”). Love & lust were covered in “Just a Little Closer” & “One Night at a Red Light.” He also gave his version of the Led Zeppelin marathon, or, as he described it, “412 minutes of pure rock.” He even included some aphoristic abstract musings from his daily journal. One might characterize Avery’s work as unbridled adjectival responses to the mundane.

Carol Graser returned after a brief break with a poem about an attack on her chickens by a fox, “Alarm at Dawn.” I was bit confused by the next poet’s name, but the sign-up sheet had him listed as Wyler Graham, but did he say he goes by Dan? Anyhow, he was another of the night’s rhymers with a poem on gender roles, “Life of Reduction,” & a poem about working at the track, “Taking Bets is the Life for Me.” Albany’s Tess Lecuyer read one of her signature solstice poems, “Summer Solstice 2001,” then a “1st reading of a 2nd draft,” a villanelle for her sister & fiancé “Wedding Poem for Mandolin & Dobro.” W.D. Clarke was back with one of his crowd-pleasers, “The 2-Holer,” then a more recent poem, “Departed Relatives,” their tombstones in cemeteries in Canada. I followed with Charlie Rossiter‘s 2002 “July 4th in the Year of the Terror” & my response with the same title.

Craig Irvin was in town to sing with the Opera & so with his training need no mic to read a ballad about cutting down a cursed tree, “The Tale of John Jacob Garvin,” or as he described it, “Dr. Seuss meets H.P. Lovecraft”. Brian Dorn‘s poem “I Need a Sign” amounted to a prayer to get through these times, then a poem for poets, “Words.” Stately Mizana performed a long fable about a therapist/adviser “Challenges,” then another piece “We Wear Masks.” Barbara Garro‘s first piece was also long, the prosaic biography “The Poverty of Poe,” then read a shorter poem, “Love Is.”

Lorraine Grund was fetching in poets’ basic black & read 2 very personal pieces, “Sing & Don’t Cry” (which is tattooed in Spanish on her arm), then a poem about her journey of recovery from abuse, “Resurrection.” The final poet had never read before, a true poetry virgin, & went simply by the name “Bunny“; she began with an untitled rhyming piece with violent visions of her death, then another rhyming poem summarized by its title, “How Many Times Can a Heart Truly Break?” & ended with a couple of haikus — a good start down the rocky road of poetry readings.

If you haven’t been to Saratoga Springs on the 1st Wednesday of the month, to the poetry open mic at Caffe Lena, why not? Check it out.