Wednesday, September 18, 2013

legend of don pablo parking lot: the 48 hour tour (part 3)

[for part 1 & 2, see previous entries]
[also, pardon the lapse in updating this--gnarly migraine stole me away for a bit]

It's time for my set at Kafe Kerouac. And guess what? Looking back, I honestly don't remember much of it. I was stuck in the depths of delirium brought on by my stupid cold. I really can't remember what poem I even started with. I do remember stopping midway through and apologizing for sounding like an adolescent boy in the midst of "the change." I was cracking and squeaking all over the place. I wish I could get that time on stage back. All of it is lost to the ether of fever.

JB went up next and he was amazing start to finish. I think the previous evening's gig was a perfect warm-up and by Columbus he was in his stride. When I hear him read I think: testify. He's telling it, all truth. He caught all the eyes and ears of the room. From the back of the room I looked around and noted all of the heads turned toward him, the slow grins and small nods. It's magic, watching a room get transformed by words.

this still photograph does not do his set justice; the electric fails to translate

I was really proud of him. I've seen Jason read a bunch of times but I think he really shines on the road.

Matt Connelly read next. He is local to Columbus and knows our friend Andrew, who set up the gig. They are both graduate teaching assistants, so a good deal of our crowd came from their classes. Someone refers to Matt as the "heart-throb" of the scene. He's handsome in the all-American way--he reminded me a lot of Fred Savage. His work reminded me of Shakespeare. Romantic, precise, almost melodic in delivery.

Then Andrew read. Andrew is amazing. My favorite part of his set was when he prefaced a piece with "Now my girlfriend dared me to read this..." Angelle, his lady, was right in the front row. From my perch in the back I couldn't see her face, but I could almost feel her grinning, noticing the way she was leaning forward completely riveted. Andrew proceeded to read a fairly graphic sex poem, but it was of course much more than that. He's got the biggest guts of all of us--not only did he share such an intimate piece about an intimate moment with his love, but he did so with a gentleness and respect it deserved. It's kind of hard to explain. The moment he described were so intimate and beautiful, almost fragile in was exquisite. I can only hope to have that much bravery, to have such an observing, sweet eye for my own moments and loves.

Other things of note: At one point during the reading, I went back to the bar side of the coffee shop to get a refill. I overheard someone say "What's going on in the other room?" The response: "poetry reading." The person answered with, "Oh word?" And immediately went into the other room to listen. I love that. More people need that love.

Also, there were two love birds in the audience and I caught them holding feet. They would look over at each other now and then and grin. True--this made my big heart flip-flop.

After the set, I continued my slow(and not so quiet) death by cold. I made my way to the bar and ordered my first hot toddy ever, complete with apple/cinnamon tea. Bingo. Just what I needed. The whiskey and heat gave me a bit of room to breathe. Breathing is great! And because I could breathe, I was interested in sticking around for a while instead of beelining it back to Andrew's place. I think this was a relief to everyone--the atmosphere was so lovely and I crave conversation after a reading. A group of women from the audience surrounded JB and started asking him about his pieces and travels. It was nice that most of the audience wanted to come up and talk with us afterward instead of just shuffling out awkwardly. That does happen sometimes.

Shortly after a group of us claimed a table and talked shop a bit. JB and I found a Connect Four game to play. The bottom was broken but after setting up my box of tissues beneath it, all was well.

Between the toddies and some Nyquil, I was ready for bed. Angelle and Andrew set up the living room for us--JB had the air mattress by the window and I had a futon. A fan was put in the open window and we had a peaceful night's sleep complete with a steady breeze, sounds of trees swaying and even a train whistle. I woke up with my nose still clogged--Andrew had a fever and Angelle had a sore throat. We were all brewing a little something.

Before leaving town, we went to breakfast at Jack & Benny's. Perfect little spot. Breakfast served all day, right on High Street. Hash browns just how I like 'em. Afterwards I was feeling nostalgic and had to run across the street to grab some french fries from Rally's. Rally's was one of my favorite fast food joints as a kid growing up in Ohio. I couldn't taste them, but it seemed like the right thing to do. We stopped in Records Per Minute before heading back to Andrew's apartment to pack up.

Truth--I think I slept for most of the ride back. The sun was shining and the music was good. It was nice to be back in Pittsburgh(of course I woke up in time to come through the tunnel and see the city), but by that evening I was already daydreaming about being on the road again. JB is a great buddy to travel with. All of our hosts were amazing and went the extra mile to make us comfortable. I can't wait to do it again.

special mention: On the way to Columbus, JB played Can, and this song became somewhat of an anthem/something to yell out randomly when things were quiet:

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