Tonight was the annual, pre-Xmas, visit from Sanity Clause (“everyone knows there is no Sanity Clause”), a yearly opportunity for the old fellow to have the badly-behaved good poets of Albany sit on his welcoming lap. Ah, yes. With a gift of poetry. As has been my custom at this holiday gathering I read the exquisite “Holiday Poem” by Enid Dame to invoke her spirit for our reading tonight.

(photo by Wendy Dwyer)

First up, appropriately enough, was A.C. Everson with her annual rendition of her “naughty Santa” rhyme, usually performed with a piñata, that she then smashes. Fortunately for Sanity Clause she didn’t smash him, just gently sat on his lap as did each reader. Avery read the effusive “To Be in Love” with “dancing fairies of the night” — who knew? Alan Casline introduced his poem “The Good Boy” as being in the style of William Carlos Williams & based on a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. Joe Krausman read a poem written as an experiment, one written in 2-syllable words, “Knowing Oneself Baffling, Giving Advice Easy.”

The night’s only “virgin” was local peace-activist/Code Pink lady Wendy Dwyer with a poem about the use of drones by the United States to destroy others’ lives just like ours.

Tim Verhaegen has long been a member of our writing community, a long-time member of the Every-Other-Thursday Night Voorheesville group & a frequenter of open mics, so I was pleased to finally bring him to the Social Justice Center as a featured poet. He writes family memoir & poems about the world around him. His first poem was from his childhood experiences, “Old People.” “The Stones” was about being in the cemetery in East Hampton where he grew up. His next piece was the prose family memoir, “The Fuck Family,” that kept us in stitches (& reverberated). Switching back to poetry he read the wistful portrait “Her Great Big Window,” then back to another memoir, “Charles Verhaegen, Chronic Sufferer, is Finally Dead,” which was written as an obituary for his brother, another exercise in outrageous family humor. In contrast his final piece “A Boy Walks on the Train Tracks Far From Home” is a sad poem, reflections about his self from his college years.

After a short break punctuated by lots of “fucking” remarks, inspired by Tim’s reading, I continued on with the open mic with my only Xmas poem, “Christmas Eve, 1945.” Sally Rhoades read 50 lines from a longer piece “I Carry My Mother’s Tragedy.” Dennis Sullivan could easily have impersonated Santa Claus & introduced his poem with a story from Lucretius, then read “Early for an Appointment” (with Death).

(photo by Wendy Dwyer)

Jill Crammond was finally back for the open mic with a poem about what she thinks about when walking her dog at night, “The True Story of Mary & the Spilled Milk.” Tom Corrado handed out copies of his newest chapbook Screen Dump then read section #19 & 20 (as one poem). The night’s last poet was Keith Spencer who read his poem “Monster,” that if one is a “friend” one can find it on Keith’s Facebook page.

Throughout the night, after each poet read she or he got to sit on the lap of Sanity Clause & explain how bad they had been during the year, for which they were rewarded by a gift of a book of poetry from Sanity Clause’s big bag. It was quite a night, with perhaps Sanity Clause having the most fun of all.

More photos from the night can be found at my Flickr! site.

You too can join the fun each month (minus Sanity Clause who only comes once a year) on the third Thursday of the month at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY — bring a poem for the open mic & support the featured poet.