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The Exorcist 4.26.02
Exorcist posting: I went to the first week of Green in the new spot. More spacious. Nice setup. Next to the Billiards Inn at 12255 Venice Blvd. It was the semi-finals. Poetri and Sam calibrated. One judge was foul giving Sam a 5.6. He didn't do anybody else like that for the rest of the night and he apologized to Sam after. And that's why we have calibration poets so that judges scores will creep up before slam contestants do their thing. Me and Cindy did the scorekeeping. Mark Gonzales spoke on how his dad got stopped at the airport for being a Mexican with a briefcase and a business suit. He said before there was Saul Williams at the Nuyorican there was Miguel Pinero who helped found it. Him and Gina did the poems where people were getting their nationalities wrong. Gina spoke on how someone had actually described her as a mutt and she let that person know in no uncertain terms that a mutt is a crossbred dog. She also did her 'Somewhere there's a poem' 'One day I'm gonna freak this poem..Shhh. I just did'. Mark Gonzales spoke about the hypocrisy of Bush's war on terrorism. When Poetri calibrated he did a poem about poetry rock stars who have their own groupies that know every line of their poems and imagined them blowing up like rap stars. 'Poets from the midwest represent!'. He finished off by saying that he writes poems for his own release. Mark said something similar when he said that poets who had been doing it for five years were still performing their first year pieces. Inq was the only poet that got below 9 at the Lounge slam and he mentioned in his piece that because he got 8.9 he wanted to stick something up the judges behind but a female poet talked him out of it. I think it was Gina. Slim started off with Master Pop money. Nafeesa did the poem about the pimp that wanted to turn her into a ho. Rachel did her Delilah poem. Javon did a poem where he said to the judges 'Fuck your scores because this poem is higher than that.' Political messages in the poem. Interesting to see that one judge didn't want to give a score because he said that. That didn't happen the last time he did it at a slam. He did his 'This is a fuck poem' also. Jaha and Gina scored highest in the first round sharing a 29.6. Brigitte performed 'What if, what if we kissed'. Steve tickled the hell out of me. He walked through the crowd and actually put his hand on a judges head when he walked past him yet the judge still gave him a 10. I thought he'd feel stressed but maybe he felt blessed, either way I was impressed. Gimel's last piece was one I hadn't heard before. Nice rap rhythm with a chorus. Gaknew did his poem about selling his CD's and telling somebody that disrespected him that he could have been a thief but at least he's making a living for himself. Thea did her cocoon poem. Unsaen performed 'Listen to the rhythm that I'm spitting' and 'Motherfuck the mundane'. Jelena performed 'when will we realize there is no my land and your land...'. Steve was the only person to get people standing up for him and the only one that got perfect tens. Brigitte almost got it but one judge gave her a 9.8. Funnily enough she went on after Steve.Mark was in the final four but he might be going to college so Javon could get to fill in for him. Steve, Brigitte and Gina are the others that go on to the finals. Very succesful first night for Damon. He promoted it well. Hopefully people will continue to come on the normal nights as well and not just for the slams. Exorcist signing off.

Charlotte O'Brien 4.25.02
Valley Contemporary Poets VS Five Penny Poets

Really, for me the Valley Contemporary Poets vs the Five Penny Poets "Literary Slam" last night at THE UGLY MUG (HOSTED BY BEN TRIGG & STEVE RAMIREZ, TWO IDIOTS PEDDLING POETRY) was really all about Frankie (That's C. Frances to you lot)! OK so I'm biased, but not without extremely good reason. This was Frankie's debut as the newest member of the Valley Contemporary Poets and I for one (who sees her perform all the time) was knocked out.

The usual "poet extraordinaires" were there from both sides. Brendan Constantine from VCP was expectedly exceptional. I particularly enjoyed the visual his 1st poem conjured: a guy gone girl showing off his new breasts to friends who are distracted by the tattoo of a ship lodged between them. Mindy Nettifee (touring Germany with June Melby at the end of this month) was casually brilliant doing my favorite piece "Between Bites of Chicken Casserole" about visiting family in the mid-west and only narrowly escaping Jesus. (Can't help but wonder what it would be like to actually make love with a perfect stranger in the wet grass at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower.) Richard Modiano from VCP did a stunning little number about cunnilingus and followed with a facinating piece called "Gaijin." I particularly enjoyed the translation back and forth from Japanese to English. As for Elizabeth Iannaci - watch out! A dangerous woman with words, shoes and a shotgun. There were more. Much, much more... these were just my own highlights.

But I want to go back to Frankie. I am SO, SO pleased that I drove an entire hour to get down to Orange. It was worth it just for her. I have always known that she is amazingly talented, from the first time I saw her perform at a Midnight Special slam. And, since then, I have always expected her to be amazing. But, last night, she was also funny and intelligent and beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Her first poem "This Poem is Not About You" had the audiences roaring. It's just one of those pieces you only wish you'd written yourself. Again, something I've heard & seen before but last night her delivery was flawless. Next, to "Icarus Burning." Well, lets just say... "O my god" like a valley girl would say it. You got it. I like to think that I kinda have an inside insight into this piece and it gets more emotive every time I hear it. Lets just say there are stars falling/we are being birthed - according to her - from the sky and lets just say if this is a revelation then she is a part of it.

Can't help but be a little humble. Rushing to my thesaurus. Thinking "O my god, I'm never gonna be able to write like that." Frankie was absolutely birthed last night and I am nothing short of downright impressed. Maybe even, just a teensy bit jealous.

Oh? Who won? Well, who cares? The judges were biased and what are the OCP's gonna do with a big shiny cup anyway?

The Exorcist 4.21.02

Exorcist posting:Thursday at Green was the vey last night there. The new location is Billiards Inn at 12255 Venice Blvd. at 8 to 10pm. Gaknew did a new piece about the different pieces of paper around his room that he used to write on. One girl got everybody hot under the collar 'liquefies with his liquid thighs' made a reference to being glazed like a cinnamon bun when a guy came on her. Sam did a piece called 'Sexual misconduct'. Unsaen did a new piece. He paused a little after the start for a really long time. He said later that he was stoned. Exorcist signing out.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 4.20.02
For The Record

I've heard of poetry readings in bookstores. I've heard of poetry readings in theaters. I've also heard of poetry readings in coffeehouses. I've never heard of poetry readings in record stores. At least not until last night, when I went to Midnight Records.

Now, Midnight Records doesn't stay open until midnight as the name would imply. Well... Let me take that back! Midnight Records doesn't stay open until midnight on any day of the week other than Friday. That is when the record store becomes a "poetry store." And who is behind this transformation worthy of a (karma) chameleon? None other than GaKnew. Every Friday night, between 9:00 p.m. and midnight, he steps up to the mic not only as a poet but also as a poetry reading host. His open mic, "Words," is a new kid on the block when it comes to poetry readings around town, but promises to be a success. And the owner of Midnight Records, Sam Fuston, would not have it any other way. That is why he turns the lights down low, lights some candles, and even has a caterer in the house, so hungry audience can get something to go with that poetic food for thought.

GaKnew's reading is a place where you would meet people you haven't seen in ages mixed with those you just saw at another reading the day before. You'll also meet poetry virgins mixed with seasoned performance poetry pros, and wonder of wonders, you'll notice that there are actually more audience members than those who want to get on the open mic. All that, combined with GaKnew's warmth and unpretentious charm, makes this venue well worth the trip to the Westside. And for all you poets who have published chapbooks, Sam is more than willing to take them on consignment and take some of the selling pressure off your shoulders.

So people, from now on, pencil in "Words" as your Friday evening must-see, and while you are there, say 'hello' to our friend GaKnew and make sure to tell Sam we sent you.

Fridays from 9:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight
at Midnight Records
2867 S. Robertson Boulevard
(2 blocks North from National)
Los Angeles, CA 90034

P.S. Buy some of those chapbooks, too. They all go for $6 a piece, and the poets include GaKnew, Nafeesa Monroe, Rachel Kann, and yours truly.

The Exorcist 4.18.02

Exorcist posting: Friday at Midnight Special I heard a poet with a style of recital I'd never seen before. Me, Unsaen and Verbal Toxicity have acted out of it when reciting. This guy seemed certifiable and edgy throughout his poem. I was worried that he wouldn't observe the 5 minute time limit but thankfully he did. His recital was hypnotic. One line ran into another. It was a thing of beauty. Very original. Tuesday night was the conclusion of the semi-finals. Mark Gonzales, Snowplough and Poetri calibrated. Jaha featured. Omari won and Bridget came second and Taalam Acey came third. The judges were pretty harsh considering the calibre of the poets. Very few tens given out. Rachel did a piece I heard about 6 months ago and had really wanted to hear repeated. I believe she did it as a comeback to Seiku's poem where he rails against God for all the crap he's been through in his life. Put Seiku first and then Rachel and this would be very obvious. I believe the same as her that we're like actors that read the script of our life and agreed to it before we lived it but found it a lot harder than we thought it would be when we actually lived it compared to when we just rehearsed it. Slim did a poem that was a variation of LL Kool J's 'I need love'. His was called 'I miss love'. I think he shoud have done his 'Comfort poem' in one of the three rounds. He did his in praise of women poem. Always a good one when you have quite a few female judges. Shihan and In-q also sweeted me and the crowd with poems I hadn't heard for about a half a year and had wanted to hear again. Shihan's 'I'm sick and tired... of Cuba Gooding crying in every movie....of Jennifer Lopez always having white parents in every movie...of clubs making us wait outside so people will think they are popular and of me waiting outside to get in those clubs'. In-q did 'Don Juan DeMarco'. Vey raunchy poem. The last few lines had to be seen and heard to be beieved. He referred to the size of his member and had his arms out like he was hugging a tree. Bridget did her 'half amazon/half amazing poem' and 'Dear HipHop'. Nafeesa did 'Fractions' and a poem about a 'friend' that wanted to turn her into a ho. Said he locked the car when she tried to get out but relented and let her go. Some came close but in three rounds Gina was the only person who scored a perfect 30 and like something out of a movie she did it in the third round as the last poet. Good way to end a very exciting night. Seiku did a live taping of his 'railing against God poem. Some of us paid a dollar for a slip which gave us a chance to guess on the three winners. I got two out of three. I guessed Bridget and Taalam. I thought Rachel would have been one of the three. So the 6 going to Minneapolis should be Steve Connell, Gaknew, Seiku, Gina, Omari and Taalam. Looking at those names I think they should be able to take 1st place at nationals. Exorcist signing off.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 4.17.02

No Title Can Sum This Up Accurately

And "this" in the title above is the second round of the Slamarena semi-finals that took place at Da Poetry Lounge last night. Nine poets went to a hand-to-hand poetic combat over three available spots in the finals for the 2002 Hollywood/Miracle Mile Slam Team, and it was a battle to the last rhyme.

The poetic souljahs were: In-Q (2-time Hollywood Slam Team Member), Gina Loring (an awesome all-around artist), Nafeesa Monroe (member of the 2001 Hollywood Slam Team and winner of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe open slam), Omari (member of the 2001 Los Angeles Slam Team which finished second in the nation), Rachel Kann (member of the 2001 Long Beach Slam Team and the 2000 Hollywood Slam Team), Shihan (2001 Los Angeles Grand Slam champion and 2000 Hollywood Grand Slam champion), Slim (a very prolific member of the Poets of The Round Table collective), Bridget Gray (member of the 2001 Hollywood Slam Team and the first HBO Soul Poetry Slam winner), and Talaam Acey (winner of several U.S. and international slam competitions). Now, with artists like these, anything could have happened. And with judges as strict as the ones last night, any one of these artists could have been the winner. But let me not jump the gun here! We need to build some suspense first...

The night started with marvellous Mark Gonzales as the first calibration poet. He made sure to let us know he was "that Chicano child that wears his shirt inside out" with the label outside in, showing "Made in America" sign. That warmed the audiences right up, but it also showed how merciless the judges would be -- he didn't get a single 10 despite the standing ovation from the audience. Next up to calibrate was Snowplow, followed by Poetri who, wonder of wonders, read a LOVE poem. Then, it was the time for the first round of competition to start. Now, we all got a taste of what was to come when Talaam Acey finished his first poem leaving us all in a positive daze but getting only 28.8 points from the judges. He was followed by Rachel Kann asking to be proven wrong and tying Talaam's score. Slim went up next, received 28.7 and definitely gave us a taste of the close race to the finish line that was to follow. Bridget Gray scored 29.2 and Shihan received only 28.6 (Were the judges punishing him for being away from Da Lounge lately? Who knows...) Nafeesa read her brand new "pimp" poem (inspired by a real life event), and scored 29.1 points. Omari finished his first round with 29.7 (which will later prove to be a lucky number for him). In-Q got the audience involved in his act, but still ended up with only 29.2, and Gina would have had the highest score in the first round should she not go over the allowed 3 minutes and 10 seconds. Hit by a 0.5 time penalty, she ended the first round with 29.3 points. At the end of the second round, with the exception of Omari who was almost certain to be one of the top 3 finishers, and Shihan, who couldn't be saved even if he received a perfect 30 in the last round, the winning spots could have gone to any of the other 7 poets. And drama continued up until the last moment.

Before the third round began, we were all treated to the feature by Jaha Zainabu. Jaha is one of the two 2001 Los Angeles Slam Team alternates, but more than anything else, she is a wonderful artist, woman, and a human being. She has definitely "found her it" ("Finding Your It" is the name of the workshop Jaha conducts in schools throughout Southern California), and each time I listen to her, I am thoroughly mesmerized. Last night was no exception, and the rest of the audience shared this sentiment with me. Even though we wanted to stay in that warm place and listen to more of Jaha's poetry, there was still some unfinished slam business to be taken care of, so we moved into the final battle for the 3 spots in the Slamarena finals. Giving you a complete blow-by-blow would leave your head spinning (besides, I don't do anything with a "blow" in its name on the Internet), so I will just give you a few quick highlights before I sound the fanfare.

In-Q always manages to get the audiences going with his outrageously funny rendition of Don Juan de Marco. This time however, not even the shirt unbuttoning nor his manly chest could persuade the judges that he deserved more than 29.2 for his effort. Slim showed us a softer side of himself confessing he missed love (we feel you, Slim!) and Shihan finally nailed a 29.7 by telling us what ticks him off. At the end, though, it all came down to Omari, Talaam, Bridget, Rachel and Gina. Omari was right on target by receiving another 29.7 and Rachel tied his score. Bridget mused about the "Shades of Gray" and scored 29.8, while Talaam received 29.9 for his poem. Gina was last to perform, and as we already accepted the fact that we wouldn't be seeing a perfect score of 30 that night, she ended the night with quite a bang. A 30-point bang that is. Still, that was not enough to put her among the three winners. The competition ended with Talaam Acey in the third place with 88.6 points, Bridget Gray in the second with 88.8 and Omari as the big winner with the final score of 89.1. Wow! Another night of amazing poetry in the LA-LA-land.

Omari, Bridget and Talaam will face off with Steve Connell, Gaknew and Sekou in the Slamarena finals on May 21st. All of these poets are guaranteed a place on the 2002 Hollywood/Miracle Mile Slam Team. The competition will just determine who will be considered an all-rights-granted team member and who an alternate. All of them will have to come up with 2 brand new poems that they have not used in previous competitions. I guess, being a slam poet doesn't only mean you have to be charismatic, but also quite prolific.

Da Poetry Lounge will be closed next Tuesday, April 23rd, but will resume normal weekly (open mic) activity on April 30th. And don't forget: Slamarena finals are on May 21st. See you then!

Wayman Barnes 4.16.02
Isak Dinesen Cofee Brouhaha

Does having syphilis make you a better writer?
Did the Dutch really support the Jews in WWII?
Why Marilyn Monroe?
Which medical treatments of today will seem barbaric and ignorant in the future?
Is sex with a prostitute more enjoyable if you get a discount?

These were just a few of the topics of conversation at our literary salon last night. We began by reading and discussing some of the stories of Isak Dinesen, but that quickly devolved into a very strange and esoteric conversation about a great many subjects. I think we all learned something new. But maybe not.

You should have been there.

Check out these links, if you dare:
This one's in Danish, but hey, you gotta start somewhere..
All the medications she took, how much, and when. Mercury, arnsenic, bears, o my!
Somebody's public lecture about her life

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 4.16.02

Bridging The Gap (In Leather)

Last night at the "Atlas" club was all about bridging gaps: a gap between different generations of poets, a gap between music and poetry, and a gap between the club culture and the dimly lit spoken word venues. And all of this happened thanks to the Poets of The Round Table, Mike(the Poet), (Lad)Yvette, and Phil(Harmonic).

Mike Sonksen, a.k.a. Mike the Poet, and Yvette (a.k.a. Ladyvette), aided by Chaz on "skins" and Jeremy Soul on 1's and 2's, hosted a night of bridges and fusion that won't be forgotten soon. It all started with a mind-blowing performance by Manchild, Mark Gonzales and Abbye Atkinson. After the sounds of Abbye's guitar and M & M's voices died down, we all wanted to change the world, or at least think about what we would do if we could change it. They were followed by Ladyvette reading a wordy Shakespearian monologue that basically asked us to speak from the soul. Needless to say, everyone performing at "Atlas" did just that.

Next up was Mike raising the temperature with some "Volcanic Vibes," followed by Besskepp telling us what he would do if he could "rewind time" and lamenting over the best poem he ever wrote but can't find now (maybe he just performed it that moment). After Besskepp, we were transported to a completely different atmosphere thanks to (the poet known as) 7. He was telling us about a woman who "is one of those..." and confessing that he was "looking for a woman to f**k" him, but not where you would expect -- he was talking about his mind. By the way, bro, I loved your rendition of having your mind blown away!

Ladyvette was up next confessing that she has "chosen to chase her life instead of her dreams." At the end, she sang a very emotional song for her father who passed away (and whom she never knew as a child), titled "Black Star." Mike was next with the crowd favorite about "Emerging Superstars of the American Avantguarde." God only knows, the house was full of them last night! He was followed by Poetronigirl and her classic, "Black in the Day," which she dedicated to the old school players. Then it was Besskepp again, this time with the help of LaVoice in an amazing rendition of "We Talk Blues Language and Imitate Slave Hymns." Then, Larry Jaffe took the stage. Not even lighting glitches could prevent him from showing us what a fine poet he is (damn it!) as he moved with high "Velocity" through "Bridging the Gap" while having "Unprotected Poetry" and offering us "Revolution in a Box." Mike again interjected with his ode to "L.A. Authors" only to introduce one of his mentors, Lewis MacAdams. Lewis (affectionately known among his fans as Mr. L.A. River) started by letting us know that he is "not a patriot" but "citizen of the earth," and ended with a very rousing (for the lack of a better word) "Calling Home Coyote." Then, Brandon Backhous jumped up on stage to tell us how he is "tearing up reality, ripping it up at seams," only to be followed by Phil Martin, a.k.a. PhilHarmonic, flowing over the smooth saxophone in the hands of Adrian Ramon and beats by Pete. (Believe me, the rhyme is completely unintentional.) If you've never heard Phil perform this way, you should have been there!

The spoken word portion of the evening ended with Mike, Phil and Yvette "Steppin' Out." And then -- fanfare please -- it was the nut time: Cody ChesnuTT time, that is. Now, I could have written this whole report about Cody ChesnuTT alone and I still wouldn't give him the props he deserves. Cody has been compared to Terence Trent D'Arby, Prince (from his younger days), and Lenny Kravitz, but I would say that Cody is Cody -- unpretentiously inimitable, nut as in ChesnuTT, unbelievably multi-talented but still absolutely lovable. He will take you from gospel to rock, to soul, to ballad, back to finger-snapping-foot-stomping rock 'n' roll in a matter of minutes. He definitely has "his mojo" going, even when under "Pressure." And when he sings about "his women and his guitars," every single woman in the room wants to jump up on that stage, give him a huge, big hug and say, "It's gonna be alright, baby!" Cody "Look(s) Good in Leather," he looks good in anything else and by golly, he'd look good even in his birthday suit (musically, I mean). As a matter of fact, his first CD ("The Headphone Masterpiece") and his stage performance are just that: Cody baring his soul to the audiences. I've liked his music before I heard him at "Atlas," but one needs to see him and hear him with the band to completely appreciate his style. And Cody's style is all his own: aware of his own value but still unbelievably humble. Now, after all of this, if you are wondering where you can get Cody's CD, I must tell you I don't know. I do have one... And I'm not tellin' ya where I live!!! But you can find out whether he has anymore for sale if you go see him at Conga Room on Tuesday, April 30th. Or you can visit his website at www.codychesnutt.com. Just make sure to tell him Jelena from LitRave sent you. I've gotta earn my brownie points, ya know!

Also, make sure to check www.getunderground.com to see what Mike, Phil, Yvette and the rest of the Poets of The Round Table are up to next. Talking about Mike and Yvette, they deserve big ups and lots of warm wishes -- they just got engaged. Spring is in the air... gaps are being bridged... and we all look good in leather.

As for me, I'm going to put that Cody's CD in the stereo right now. Who cares about the neighbors at 1:30 in the morning?!? I'm a poet, damn it!!!

Matthew Jones 4.16.02

Raw Words

The resounding sound
Slamming into my bones
Of the spoken word Truth
Raw and untamed
Coursing through my veins
Tearing away all veils
Masks shattered reality
Looking through new eyes
A new time
To be reborn
Of prophet's rhymes
Shaking my body temple
With a thousand ice shards
Tingling, burning fire dance
In my spine
Vibrating to the beat
Taking me over
Flowing river's passion
Pouring out undamned
Washing the debris away
Leaving the pure scent
Of nature expressed
Through this mighty instrument
Uniting us
Freeing us
Souring the limits
Of imaginations tide
A universal guide
To all that life has to offer
Can you feel it?
Are you ready?
Is your body quaking?
From the silent aftermath
Of the spoken word Truth
Raw and untamed

The Exorcist 4.15.02

Exorcist posting: Last Saturday at Mia's a woman called Aquiah was the feature. Unsaen had us all laughing when he did a Michelle and started off by singing an aria.Tuesday at the Lounge was semi-finals. Calibrations were Poetri, Unsaen and Jelena. Unsaen did his poem about having a crush on someone. Not his usual style. No references to letting the cum fly. Jelena's poem was timely.'When will we realize there's no 'my land and your land.....and that thee's only one race, the human race'. Very timely with all this Middle East strife. Poetri performed 'Ant police'. The feature was Mike Cirelli. He did a costume change after each poem. He performed 'The poetry gym' wearing a Gold's Gym t-shirt. He did one poem in a cook's outfit. He had a hockey top on for his first poem about his ice hockey days.Poetri did a new thing. They usually go 8-6-4 whittling down each round but he wanted to fill out the night with the slam poets. Before the first half would be featured poets but we came there to see slammers so it was a good move having it where they would all perform each round. Steve Conell won all three rounds. He was on fire. He did the 'I'm an American!' poem. Seiku did his poem where he questioned God and in a tie off at the end with Javon he won doing his poem about the girlfriend who came home late. Besskepp did 'if I could rewind time'. R-A-C did a great piece about some guy who left her holding the baby which she had there that night. Javon did his 'Fuck poem'. Azikwe did 'the Bartender'. Gaknew came second that night.'Left, riiight, forwaard, march!' got the crowd moving. Thea did her butterfly poem and started the night with her poem about a guy that was a bad lover although she put it more bluntly'. She said he was one of the finest brothers on the planet but a lousy performer between the sheets. Next week is the second stage of the semi-finals.

Nancy Lambert 4.14.02

Frankie Drayus at Tanner's, Saturday April 13, 2002

Yes. The woman says yes and you'd like to argue. You'd like to say but no, there's way too much grief in the world for yes. But of course she'll have none of it. Say war in Palestine, war in Afghanistan, in Northern Ireland, in South Miami, say war in a huge wallowing no and she'll listen to you politely, nod her head in heartfelt sympathy, and then when you've finished your rant, say yes. Yes is what she says. Yes in your body, wracked by wants and always unsure. Yes in the world of rock-wielding men, of tanks and counterattacks, of accusations of whose fault it is -- yes, she says. It begins in love in wanting it. It begins in the body, she tells us in one poem, "broken like bread."

This is Frankie Drayus. I went to see her again last night and she gets under your skin like a bad itch. It's painful to want. It's painful to break expectations like glass then step on the shards. Most amazing of all is how they sparkle, these shards of want, of luck and loss. Takes the mike and no the light's not so good in here -- her face contorts. It holds children, many children in arms of emotion. Jackrabbit, fish, a flip of silver fin through azure seas, she sings of chains burst singing metal flies against a hard linoleum floor she has this voice. It gets like a chigger under my skin and makes me want to do things.

Along with Frankie last night, well of course we are a strange family the way we meet to break our poems like bread together, a common uncommon meal nobody cares but us. While the world careens into war, or something like war, and we have to get together and sing: Charlotte, who lilts sweet milk melting on her tongue. Charlotte hosts with Michelle, Michelle of the held-in leap-out vibrato stands behind the counter making espresso then throats out music despite having a cold. All these poets: Dana and Gary and Raymond-the-exorcist, John and Adam and Anthony and another John and I'm not so good with all the names, and of course Wayman, to make sure we're outraged delightfully yet again -- but you have to experience his "Jesus and the two older women" to actually believe it. Is it too late to convert?

David, Frankie's husband, smiles like a boy on the first day no school all the summer ahead, maybe I only wish to see the yes that is Frankie reflected in everyone. But then, you know, wishing is good. We do have that capacity, we can make the world lovely and loose. Let the Germans and French, let the U.S. and Israel and Syria, let Uganda, let Detroit, let the corporate monsters line their tin soldiers up, give them any number of hard metal weapons -- but they'll never win, not against that yes. It's what poets must do, what Frankie reminds us. It's why we lean together like battered creatures in a dark too dark not to be light. I'm so glad to be part of it. I was there last night, and came home and read about the destruction in Jenin, the bulldozed bodies such ridiculous brutalities...

but when Frankie sings yes, when Charlotte and John and Michelle and Wayman sing yes -- maybe I can stand this hard world after all.

Wayman Barnes 4.14.02
Ventura Road Trip VI

Big things are happening up north, ya. The First Annual Ventura County Poetry Festival is happening all month long and it's countywide! And, believe it or not, there is a reading going on nearly every night this month. Incredible.

The festival has many local and nationally recognized poets: Dian Souse, Steve Abbee, Hart Schultz, Dave Birchman, ERland Anderson, Mickey Jones, Joyce Lemers, Kelly Peinado, Wayne Allen LeVine, Susan Bellington Katz, Roni, Joan Raymund, Lee McCarthy, Richard Newsham, Phil Taggart, Jill Waldron, Jackson Wheeler, Lee McCarthy, Roe Estep, David Hines, Stellasue Lee, Eloise Klein Healy, Nancy Ryan, Elwyn Ellis, Pat Payne, Gauvin, Mexican Bob, Lucia Lemieux, Shelba Cole Robison, Elnora McNaughton, Gwendolyn Alley, Enid Osborn, Holly Prado, Judy Oberlander, and Crystal Davis, just to name a few.

Of course, with a list like that, we just had to boogie on up there and check it out. And you should, too.