I sat at home going stir-crazy until it was time to leave. Getting stuck in traffic on the 22 due to an accident at Main Street killed some time. So did eating dinner at Bruxie; I had a prosciutto and Gruyere waffle with fries. The waffle was very delicious but came a little light on the prosciutto.
When I got to The Ugly Mug, I discovered that the bathroom was locked. Phil has started locking it because of “all the assholes coming over from Bruxie.” (Because Bruxie’s building has been registered as historic, it gets to circumvent the usual laws requiring restaurants to have restrooms.)
As I returned the potty key and ordered mint tea, John Brantingham showed up with his wife Ann, lLoyd Aquino, and Michaelsun Knapp. John no longer has a late Wednesday class, so he was able to drive a carload of folks down from the San Gabriel Valley. It was good but weird to see these folks here, at one of my regular stomping grounds. As I explained to them, it’s like when a child has a big birthday party and his school friends meet his neighborhood friends for the first time.
I wish last night had been more like a big birthday party. Not too many people showed up. Raundi was there, at least until the break. Graham and James Kelly showed up. Jaimes Palacio arrived right near the end of the night, to pick up the sound equipment he would need at Vinatero Wine Shop Thursday. Peter Lewis and Langdon Holmes came, although Peter mentioned that after this night, he would be working Wednesday evenings for the foreseeable future. I felt somehow responsible and guilty that more people didn’t appear to demonstrate to the San Gabrielinos the full vibrancy of the Orange County poetry scene.
Last night’s readers:
- Raundi is still looking for a title for her full-length collection. She read her piece “Tonguenastics” and asked us to keep an ear open for any good, title-worthy lines.
- Samuel Rees read a couple of pieces. He’s still slammalicious.
- Kiril the Mad Macedonian, who resembles my ex-father-in-law, noted it was his first time at The Ugly Mug since May 2010. He read a poem written by his cat, a poem about hurting his ankle in an accident, and a piece inspired by Julia Cameron’s book, I think The Artist’s Way.
- I read “The Dry Seekers,”“Keep the Home Fires Burning,” and “Lost Scent, Strange Mountains” (which also involves a cat). I warned people ahead of time that the pieces were all somewhat downbeat. I didn’t get many laughs, obviously, although Graham complimented my night’s offerings and my overall oeuvre after the reading ended. I think I spotted James Kelly dozing on the sofa during my performance; maybe he was just really comfortable.
- Michael Roberts, a thin man with a big beard, was the feature. He has a book, No More Poems About the Moon. He, too, had a poem about a cat. He read poems about Long Beach, Anaheim, and Portland. His poems, overall, were cascades of often interesting, surreal-seeming imagery. During the break, Samuel Reese berated the audience into putting cash into the hat; I actually got change from Phil because I didn’t want Reese accosting me and kicking my ass as I walked back to my car. “No action, Jackson?” No, this Jackson will get some action.
- After the break, lLoyd Aquino read two poems, “Curtains” and “Poem for the Things She Left Behind.” LLoyd’s always good.
- Michaelsun Knapp read three poems. For whatever reason, I’m spacing on the short, two-word title of the first poem, though I recall the third one was called “To the Twenty-Two-Year-Old Anthropology Major Doing Graduate Studies in Peru.” The poem in the middle was “Slow the Way You Like It,” which contained a great line about guilt and mothers.
- Peter Lewis read a poem breaking down five common phrases. Then he recited the one stanza he had written of a song-to-be, “Sunset Sails.” He has gotten a haircut; I didn’t recognize him at first.
- Langdon Holmes read a piece, but I was distracted by Jaimes Palacio’s arrival.
- Erik Garcia, a friend of Peter and Langdon, read the lyrics of a song, “Fighting the Gremlins.” I miss my early twenties.
- Graham tried to write a story in seventeen syllables; he offered two successful such attempts. Then he read some Christmas haiku. Then a French one (for which he apologized beforehand). Then he read a couple of haiku inspired by his grandfather’s sheep ranch on the border between Utah and Idaho.
- When Ben Trigg called John Brantingham to the mic, he stumbled over his last name. These days, it’s weird being someplace where they don’t know John Brantingham. John read “My Belly Is the Adriatic,” which produced one of the best responses of the night; I think it helped that Jaimes Palacio was now in the audience. I think it helped that John Brantingham knows what he’s doing.
- Winslow Windswalker read a rappy, rhyming poem. I think it was one poem. It might have been several. Barefoot and frequently hunched over (he’s a tall guy), he grabbed the mic from the stand and rifled through many small, loose papers, pausing and pausing as he hunted for the right ones. He added a hallucinogenic spin to the end of the night.