This is always a high-powered event with a heavy dose of outrageousness, due in no small part to the host, Mary Panza, but tonight promised to be over the top with the featured reader Tim Verhaegen. But first a bit of the open mic.
Strangely enough I was first on the sign-up sheet & began with a poem about my first colonoscopy back in 1999, “Thru the Circle,” then a piece assigned by Shaun Baxter when he ran the open mic at the Night Sky Cafe in Schenectady “Zombie Gourd.” Joe Krausman’s 2 poems were about sex, the first about being “Too Old,” then the funny rhymes of “Pandering to Pandas at the National Zoo.”
Carrie Czwakiel was back again with 2 poems about an ex-boyfriend “Pain Lingers On” & the somewhat preachy “Complacency is Stagnant.” Don Levy read 2 new poems that I’ve had the pleasure to have heard previously (& would like to hear them again), “My Guy Friend” & “The Family Business” a letter to his niece about writing. J.L. Weeks was introduced as next month’s featured poet (& had popped up at the open mic during this year’s WordFest) & started with a rhymed Halloween themed piece on Jack-the-Ripper “The Leather Apron, then, from memory, the self-assertive “I Found My Way Around.”
Then on to the main event, featured poet/writer Tim Verhaegen, who is known for writing about his largely dysfunctional family. He began back in childhood with “Things Mom Used to Say When I Was 7,” then on to a piece about his older brother & his mother, “The Middle Child.” He already had us laughing & he would return to stories of his Mom soon. His poem “Letters” was about reading through a box of them from high school & college, & shifting tone to considering the labels we attach to others “Across a Crowded Ballroom.” Then on to poems reflecting different aspects of gay life, “It’s Down to You” (on cruising), “Cynthia the Stereotypical Angry Lesbian,” “The Pool Boy,” & the surprising “Swans” describing their dancing & fighting (& it applies to all of us I dare say). One piece was a hilarious take on writing workshops, on being praised & the price of fame. Tim returned to his mother (& father) in his final, bring-down-the-house piece, one I’ve heard before & one that always cracks me up, “The Fuck Family” — if it was a movie you couldn’t show it on TV.
Once the house quieted down again, Mary brought us back to the open mic. Cheryl A. Rice read 2 Halloween poems, the 1st so old she no longer remembers what guy it was about “Jack O’Lantern,” then to a poem about her niece on Halloween. Thom Francis’ poem “He Looks Around the Room” was short, poignant. Julie Lomoe read from a series a short poems that are observations from walking her dog to poop (no shit). Karen Fabiane’s 1st poem “Someone Laughed” spun out & around from the first cruel line that becomes a refrain, followed by a conversational poem of longing “I Woke Earlier.” Kevin Peterson read an anaphoric piece (“Your 4:00 called…”) about the job, “Working List of Lies I Told to the Therapist.” Avery, whom I hadn’t seen out in a while, closed out the night with a song lyric pondering “What Do You Choose?”
If you want to join in the fun, come to McGeary’s on Clinton Square in Albany, NY on the last Monday of the month for Poets Speak Loud!, 7:30PM. Come early & have dinner — good drinks, good food, good service — & good (mostly) poetry.
This post originally appeared on Dan Wilcox’s blog on November 5, 2015.