Michael Paul came down from the foothills to read some poems from his big black book. The following was one of them. This poem is one he wrote a long time ago for his current girlfriend (which Paul admitted she still doesn't like . . . but he does).
HE BEING DEAD YET SPEAKS, PIPES, WRITES
Lessons in bone.
Jazzman lifts brass, like knife riffing
Filigrees of sadness, sonic scrimshaw,
Upon tiny hammers, anvils, stirrups, all
The smallest ossicles of this
Bowed head. Eyes burn.
My love comes,
Bearing gifts. Four roses odorless
And still as newly killed mice.
Lays them out like my heart
At her feet
With the news of her leaving.
Taking all the wine dark lines
Of haunted face
Written by the blind luck draw
Of double helix,
Scribed by horn
(Not ax, but knife)
On the castanet clatter
Of my loves knocking
My loves leaving. I raise
A cup of gladness
Turned to vinegar and gall,
Put four roses in it:
The color of memory
The complexion of time
The shade of solitude
The hue and pattern of
The chiaroscuro coloratura
The jazzman scratches on my bones.
Listen: I will
Raise a toast to the woman
Whose tuition though bitter,
Costly as a mouthful of ants,
Is the unwilling dues
I pay to hear
All the way to my bones,
That hard bought beauty
Of the blues.
Then Taylor Graham read from Walking with Elihu: poems on Elihu Burritt, The Learned Blacksmith. The following is an excerpt from that book.
A GOOD LONG WALK
One of my motives . . . was to look at the country towns
and villages on the way in the face and eyes.
— Elihu Burritt, A Walk from London to John O'Groats
For two minutes and forty-five seconds
the Ron Horse stands waiting
in the harness at the station, trembling with impatience
of metal and steam; a snort,
a roar as he plunges into dark passages
under the city. Who could
catch his breath, as he's hurled through a tunnel
under paved streets and church vaults?
Then, re-emerging into daylight, those deranging
glimpses of tenements and black-throated
chimneys, children trying to
make-believe in backyards eight feet square;
and wicked boys flinging dead cats —
You won't travel that way.
Seven hundred miles by footpath —
you'll take your time
through pasture and yellow field,
see pied cows ruminating in noon shade,
and hear the song of bees.
You'll pass the time of day
with a hundred pleasant greeting:
a farmer at the stile,
reapers with scythe or sickle
across the hedge. It will be a good
A healthy open mic followed afterwards with Lawrence Dinkins (NSAA), Moira Magneson, Hatch Graham, Wendy Williams and others.