Friday, March 4, 2011

34. Live past } the wrong house.


Ron Goba now hosts, with Tom Daley, a poetry salon in his home just south of Boston. Tom invited me to read as feature, so last week I read. I asked Sarah G., the screenwriter/traveler, to join me. She and I used to attend the open at the Cantab Lounge, where Ron was the doorman/last reader for decades. Rain turned to snow at 6:30, when I picked Sarah up at the train station. Look up into the snow it’s dizzying. Sarah wore a white coat. I drove a black sedan.

First we walked to the wrong house—knocked on the wrong door, peered into the brightly lit and comfortable home of Ron’s neighbor. When we were invited in, we hadn’t yet realized our mistake. Not much of an audience, I thought, just an elderly couple. I looked at the old man, thought, Ron has changed he’s unrecognizable. Sarah asked to use the bathroom. She came back, like, in a minute and said, “This is the wrong house.” No one spoke: we left. Sarah said to me, when I asked how she’d figured out we were in the wrong place, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Ron’s house is well-stocked with single malts and decorated with clowns. After a warm welcome from Ron and Tom—the only people at the salon who knew me—I was offered a seat. Twenty-five people came. Before the feature, everyone there is offered a chance to read in what’s called a “round robin”; two more round robins follow a break after the feature. During the round robins, it was suggested I read poems by other poets. I read “The Yellow Bicycle” by Czeslaw Milosz, “Psalm” by George Oppen, and “Why Trees Weep” by John Taggart. The introductions Ron and Tom gave me were most generous. Interesting for me to hear about the impression I made as a young poet, reading with the likes of John Cotter, Jeff Paris, and Matthew Klane. Sarah and I shared an excellent red donated by my father. I read from my unpublished ms. The Rescue: I read the poems about “our daughter,” the Metamorphosis (Ovid’s) poems, “St. Emma,” the entire Dante series, and ended with “[The Forest by the River is Never Empty]” (“Beowulf is ashes. / So bury ashes.”). What a pleasure to read for so long and to be heard. After, for about fifteen minutes, I was asked questions and kindly enthused over. I enjoyed hearing, too. Good to hear Ron and Tom again. Sarah and I were both especially interested in Carol’s poetry—I didn’t catch her last name. We guessed her to be in her sixties. She carried a fossil with her. An ammonite. At the end of the evening, I was offered two features (dates to be announced), one at an art gallery named for the place where I once weekly met with The Blue Poets, the other at The Boston Conservatory. (I wonder if Nina J. would choreograph something and join me on stage?) My thanks to Ron and Sue for hosting me, to Tom for the invite; I am grateful.

Sarah and I found the car covered in snow. We drove north to Boston.

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