Sunday, November 5, 2017…There was, you see, a reading–a poetry reading at Gatsby’s Bookstore in Long Beach, CA.
It was free. Not a penny did it cost to hear poetry. And, for me, it was not just another reading (though I don’t do many). It was a huge event. There may have been an audience of 10 or 12, I didn’t count.
Just out of a 3-week stay at the hospital–a life-defining experience–and scared I wouldn’t be able to stay on my feet for the duration, I was given the gift of a most wonderful experience and it feels really important for me to acknowledge it.
Thank you, first, to Gatsby’s Books, whose support and enthusiasm and love for the arts absolutely surpasses any I’ve seen anywhere.
Thank you, most extraordinary poet, Rick Lupert, for generously agreeing to read with me. Your work is so alive, so electric and I am huge fan. It was a privilege to share a podium with you and I could have listened forever.
Thank you, my dear friend, Meg Kalvy, constant throughout all these years — sometimes as my conscience, always as my friend. To see you walk through that door on Sunday was my guarantee that I could stand up and read.
Beautiful Janis, whose last name I don’t know, in your phenomenal hat, thank you for your focus, your attention, your tears, your smile, and –yes–the very important purchase of my books. I will see you again at Gatsby’s and I will get your last name and another series of your warm hugs and whispered kindnesses.
Dear Couple in the Front Row, you beautiful young smiling poets, thank you for your attention, your kind words, your obvious understanding and your love of poetry.
I know I will see you again and look forward to hearing something you have written.
Poetry lives! POETRY LIVES! and it is alive and running and walking the streets of Los Angeles and its environs right now.
I was reminded of a wonderful lyric by Joni Mitchell which always rings a chime in my head to remind me what poetry is about.
I went shopping today for jewels
The wind rushed around in the dirty town
And the children let out from the schools
I was standing on a noisy corner
Waiting for the walking green
Across the street he stood
And he played real good
On his clarinet, for free
And those velvet curtain calls
I’ve got a black limousine
And two gentlemen
Escorting me to the halls
And I play if you have the money
Or if you’re a friend to me
But the one man band
By the quick lunch stand
He was playing real good, for free
Though he played so sweet and high
They knew he had never
Been on their T.V.
So they passed his music by
I meant to go over and ask for a song
Maybe put on a harmony…
I heard his refrain
As the signal changed
He was playing real good, for free.