A hot night in the storefront of the Social Justice Center with the little air-conditioning quickly overwhelmed by the vast crowd — actually, not by the numbers but the intensity of the words. Our featured poet, Bob Elmendorf, did his job by drawing in some of his poetry friends who only rarely make it out to local readings.

Local stalwart Sylvia Barnard started off the open mic with a poem from her recent trip down the Danube with her daughter about a castle where Richard the Lionhearted was once imprisoned. Joe Krausman followed with an untitled sonnet about looking for his glasses, metaphorically speaking that is. Sally Rhoades read a poem she wrote at the Walt Whitman birthday reading, a tribute to the joy reading Uncle Walt. April Selley in a rare appearance here read “Night Shift” playing on time & clocks while driving at night.

Featured Poet Bob Elmendorf

Bob Elmendorf doesn’t read out very often but his work deserves to be heard more, thus I invited him to be tonight’s featured poet. He began with an interesting joke about doing genealogy research of his family. His reading ranged from poems of his childhood to more recent experiences, beginning with “Astronomy Lessons,” mixing in Greek gods with his family & a poem about his father’s store, “The Customer is always Right.” “The Ophthalmologist” invoked the familiar experience of letters on a screen. Then on to some newer poems, including “Yews” (I heard “youse” & “use” at first) about the trees in front of his friend’s house, an elegy of sorts. The poems “The Well” & “The Horticulturalist” were metaphors about a recent relationships that has ended, while “The Candidate for Suicide” he described as “one of the more hopeful poems.” He ended with another garden metaphor, “Scarecrow” & a political piece on local activist Lynne Jackson’s walk from Albany to Binghamton to attempt to secure a new trial for Yassin Aref, a fitting poem to end with here at Albany’s Social Justice Center.

Laura Whalen

After the break I continued the open mic with an old, nun-chasing poem, “Angels” with its tongue-in-cheek nod to classicists, for Bob & for Sylvia. Brian Dorn likes doing a social justice poem when he’s here on the third Thursday & so read what he called “a weapons of mass destruction poem” “Do As We Say.” Laura Whalen also made a rare open mic appearance to honor her friend Bob, reading an Adirondack poem, finding words “On Stones.” Tess Lecuyer brought the night to a close with the coldest poem she could find, “Ice Boom Song.”

Third Thursday Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center happens on … at … in Albany, NY, 7:30 PM, $3.00 donation, if you got it.