Finally recovered from last month’s Poet Laureate Contest at Smith’s Tavern we were back at the Old Songs Community Center for the open mic & reading by featured poet Tim Dwyer. Dennis Sullivan started with a tribute to gone poet Jim Williams by reading his “A Math Kind of Guy.”
Edie Abrams (who has not yet taken off the fine fedora she wore last month) did the intros for the open mic. Bob Sharkey began with “Mother Earth Speaks to Earl” in his continuing series of the stories of Earl. Then I read a Memorial Day poem written in the early 1990’s, “John Lees.” Joe Krausman declared “But We Are Animals” (a newly written piece), & then read the older consideration of “The Golden Mean.” Mark W. O’Brien, referencing the reggae song “The River of Bablyon,” sang his own “My Song of Exile,” then read the 3-part “The Adventures of O’Brien’s Children,” again with singing at the end, but apparently not sure if he should do it in an Irish accent or a reggae accent from the Islands (but then they’re all islands).
Jonathan Wright, who had competed in last month’s contest, was back with a poem after Wordsworth, “A Couple of Clouds,” then a poem with a long title I didn’t entirely get, “One Strange Didactic Dream about Running Neanderthals …” with a bit of violence. Lloyd Barnhart commemorated the holiday with a tale about the funeral of his grandfather, a World War II vet, then an ironic piece “Smoking Gun.” Howard Kogan’s first poem paid thanks to “Dick & Jane” for teaching him to read (“sorry about Spot”), then a typically philosophical poem, “Canada Geese,” that managed to reference D.B. Cooper & the Voorheesville train. Peter Boudreau reprised one of the poems he read during the Poet Laureate contest, “You,” then read a poem about his cats, “Prayer Not.” Tom Corrado read — surprise! — another of his Screen Dumps, this #78, with quotes from the Beatles.
Edie Abrams, still wearing her pearl-grey fedora, read a mother’s conversation with a psychiatrist “Labyrinth.” Now that the weather is warmer here, Mike Burke is back in town, with a poem about a drunkard’s death, “New Year’s Eve.” Dennis Sullivan read what he called an apology in defense of his life, & pondered the effect of miserable, uncaring people on that life, then a poem looking at death, daffodils (again) & poets, “A Psychological Profile of Someone I Know.” Larry Rapant got characteristically excremental & lewd in his political piece “When the War Comes to Your Town,” then reverted to a series of puns in “Lecture #1: What Makes a Good Poem.” New face/voice Sharon Miller read an intense piece for someone who had just died, “Depraved.”
And if that was not good enough, it was time for the featured poet Tim Dwyer, who began by singing a poem, “Prelude,” by John Millington Synge (not sure he intended the pun). The rest of his reading was from a manuscript in search of a publisher in which he explores his Irish heritage, both here & in Ireland. He began with a poem that linked the history of Ireland with America, via Oliver Cromwell & Henry Hudson, “Lunar Eclipse Winter Solstice.” Then on to a triptych of poems, “Joining” (for his father & Brooklyn), “Train Boat Train, London to Galway” (as a young student), & “Yeats Country.” After reading a poem about ancient stones, he went on to a poem dedicated to the Irish poet Michael Hartnett/Mícheál Ó hAirtnéide (1941 – 1999). “After Watching Philomena” was a tender poem for his mother & for his sister, “Great Blasket” was for the uninhabited islands off the Irish coast, & “What We Dig For” was dedicated “to us Celtic orphans.” He ended with the wistful “Walking By the Farm Field Late Summer.” It was like a visit to the old sod itself.
The poets gather here at the Old Songs Community Center in Voorheesville, NY on the 4th Sunday of most months (they take July & August off) for a reading by a local or regional poet & an congenial open mic starting at 3PM — & join us at Smith’s Tavern afterwards to wet our whistles after all those words.