At some of the previous Slams here at Valentines, notably #9, the scores were so uniformly high, no matter what was performed, that it was like the judges were all clones, or smoking on the same crack pipe. But tonight the scores were all over the place, including being off the scale & down in the judges curmudgeon dungeon. & so were the poems/pieces. In fact Joe Krausman aptly summed it up during the open mic. He said that his reading of a short poem (a real poem) at a Slam was like bringing Emily Dickinson to a circle jerk.

Speaking of circle jerks, Daniel Balzac Nester‘s youthful memoir of trading porn, & of the notorious Jungle Juices tape, was right up that alley (or down that gutter), as was Bless‘ declaration of not doing poetry for pussy (well, some do…). Others in the open mic were ILLiptical with a tribute to Macho Man/Randy Savage, & open mic host Mojavi doing “Incarcerated” (encouraged by Bless from the bar to “read the poem & stop telling jokes”). But the open mic “10” was definitely D. Alexander Holiday leading the audience in a raucous recitation of his incantatory “This Poem is the Bomb” — it was nothing short of Kurt Schwitters, worthy of the best Dadaists, turning Valentines into the Cafe Voltaire, & worth the price of admission.

Miriam Axel-Lute

But they don’t really give scores at the open mic, as they do in the Slam. Bless volunteered to be the night’s sacrificial lamb to prime the judges with a piece in hip-hop rhyme on writing, then on to the first round, with 8 performers. There were a couple of virgins: Tasha with a slam-patterned cutter poem, & Jay with the short “Urine Paranoia,” Champ Elizag had an angry piece recited too fast, Ben Golden talked about losing his virginity, while Poetyc Vyzonz was the night’s motivational speaker. Rain Dan reminded us to notice & cherish what we have, Miriam Axel-Lute gave an argument against exercise & I read “To My Penis (on our 45th Birthday).”

Getting the Scores

Well, as used to say in the 3 Guys from Albany, “when in doubt, pull out the dick (poem)” — it worked. For the 1st time in Slam History Dan Wilcox got into the second round! I could’ve gone home right then, but that, of course, would’ve been most rude. There were now 4 of us, only 3 would be “in the money.” I was first with the long-awaited “Slam Poem,” then Poetyc Vyzonz did another of his signature God pieces, this with Adam & Eve, while Ben Golden did another bit of autobiography. Elizag‘s “Looking Up” was actually a real poem, on inspiration & writers’ block.

Ben Golden performing

When the judging flurry settled, like lint shaken from an old pillow, low & behold, Elizag‘s real poem was good enough for third, & left me & Ben Golden to duke it out. Ben won with “Archetype,” more bio from his smart-phone, & I scored 2nd with my ancestral “Going Postal.” What crazy planet alignment brought this about? Will the world of Slam ever be the same? Dare I ever go back & Slam again? Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? What am I going to do with all that money?

This insanity takes place on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of each month at Valentines on New Scotland Ave., in Albany. Check out the scores here on the AlbanyPoets website.