Poets - Thom Francis

Thom Francis is the president of Albany Poets and has been organizing, promoting, and hosting open mics and poetry / spoken word events in Albany, NY such as Nitty Gritty Slam, School of Night, Albany Poets Presents, and the Albany Word Fest for over 15 years. As a poet and performer, Thom has been featured at many the upstate poetry and spoken word events from Saratoga to Woodstock as well as community events – 1st Friday, Art on Lark, and LarkFest.

POEMS

RECENT ARTICLES

2019 Word Fest

Upcoming Poetry Events – Week of April 14, 2019

Here’s a look at all of the poetry events, readings, slams, and workshops coming up this week in the region as the 2019 Word Fest continues.

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R.M. Engelhardt

The Albany Word Fest A Look Forward & An Honest Look Backwards

As we get closer to the 2019 Word Fest, R.M. Engelhardt looks back that the first event in Thatcher Park, the history of Albany Poets, & more.

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CASTE

I’ve walked the miles
dark – alone…

I’ve seen them
in their suits
looking down
I’ve seen them
doubting me
silently
I’ve felt them
spitting on me
I’ve heard their
hate speeches
I’ve read their
Platform
their propaganda
their ideas
their schemes to
keep them on top

I’ve seen them
the huddled masses
starving
I’ve heard
the children cry
I’ve seen them
fighting for the scraps,
ripping their brothers flesh
outside the gates
I’ve felt them
falling
coming up short
bleeding
from their soul
I’ve seen them
trying to make it
I’ve seen them
kicked in the head
climbing the ladder
to get off the floor.

 

FLAVOUR OF THE WEAK

go out there
shake your ass
get on stage
lip sync to
this weeks
number one single
go out there
sell your self
to the machine
throw yourself
into the machine
let them eat you
chew you up
spit you on the floor
and pick the
next sweet thing
in line
on the entertainment dessert tray

go up there
trade you soul
for a new dress
pawn your innocence
for a new pair of
high heels
(better to see you over
the rest of the shit)
auction your pride
to the highest bidder
so you can
buy your place
in history
and secure a audition
for soft-core feature of the week.

 

AMERICAN DREAM

This is America
Herding up those with
Slightly darker skin
Locked up in cages
Like unwanted animals
Waiting to be put down

This is the land of opportunity
If you fit into the right tax bracket
Come from the right family
Have the perfect look
And the cleanest blood
Running through your veins

This is the place of dreams
Of working until you bleed
Just for a piece of bread
For your family of six
Working three jobs
Just to pay for one

This is the home of the brave
Not noticed until it was too late
Worshipped by the masses
Instant celebrity sainthood
While the true heroes
Toil in the field and teach
The young to read

This is the hall of heroes
With record contracts
Movie deals
Baseball bats
Multimillion dollar salaries
And endorsements
While their wide-eyed younf fans
Can’t write their own name
Count past five
Tie their shoes
Or feed themselves
But play the same childs game
For free

This is America
I was always told
This is the place where you can make it
No matter what your belief system
Religion
Background
Or race
But now I see that
This is America
Where freedom is absolute
As long as you follow their rules:
Don’t speak too loud
Don’t gather too large
Don’t print the truth
Don’t pray to that god
Don’t question anything

This is America
You are in good hands.

 

RELEVANCE GONE

He’s been pushed aside
No longer useful
No longer relevant

Now just an after thought
A relic or a novelty
Brought out at parties
Or just invited
Out of obligation

The once-shiny packaging
Has become less than attractive
Ripping at the corners
The sparkling personality
Has been replaced with an
Overwhelming sense of doubt
Disgust and loneliness

He’s the high school
Football player
Reliving that one moment
In the one game
On the one day
Twenty years ago
That gave him the story
That gave him something
To talk about
Something to hang on to

slowly realizing that
his time has come and gone
the jersey is retired
Hanging from the rafters
Of the old apartment
That everyone is trying to forget

The big game has been over for years
And the MVP has nothing left to brag about

What was great once
Is now just
Overdone
Unnecessary
Useless

He’s the guy at the bar
With nothing left
Hyping up his story
Leaving certain parts out
Barrowing lines to fill in the gaps
Giving everyone something
to talk about
until he doesn’t overheard his name anymore

for a moment he was great
But now just
Overdone
Unnecessary
Useless

 

THIRD CAN

I

staring at the bottom
of another almost empty bottle
one more sip will end it
but a fresh, cold replacement
has just arrived

push the first
(second or third)
Aside
Never quite letting it die
With its tank on empty
The level just hovering above
The absolute bottom

Never taking the last sip
in control of everything
in control of the
Fifteen wounded soldiers
Left on the bar
Before calling it a night

II

Staring into the eyes
Of another broken promise
One more word
(good or bad)
Can end it
But a fresh, warm
Replacement – distraction
Just walked in the door

push aside the first
(second or third)
Love of your life
Letting it die with hope
just hovering above
Withdrawl and abandonment

never look back
At the casualties of this personal war
never look at the wounded
left behind

can not see that well anymore
face down
Drowning in missed sips
And tears collected

But I am in control
…aren’t I?

 

UNTITLED (TRUCKER POEM)

Driving down the road
not knowing where I’m going
just trying to forget
where I’ve been

Thousands of miles to go
not nearly that many
behind me

The past catching up
every time I look
in the rear view

The map
spread out – opened up
like a photo album –
only reminds me of
who I left in my wake

Pushing the pedal
just to escape faster…
to get further and further
down the Interstate
away from the who and what I left

The family I let down
The friends I betrayed
The innocent
The guilty
The strangers
me and them
my characters
my act
my one-man side show
selling snake oil,
salvation and sympathy
door to door
to whoever will
listen, believe, and pay
my way to the next town.

The further I get
the freer I feel
the shackles of conscience
loosen their grip
the noose doesn’t feel as tight
three states away
in a different jurisdiction.