After The Reading
Riding in a packed car after the reading last night, heading down to the bar, the driver said: Look at the moon. And at the end of the street, the moon appeared as if it were doing some burlesque feather dance with clouds. The woman crammed in next to me who’d been talking about her month’s book tour in Italy took out her digital camera and reached between the driver and passenger and took a blurry picture of the moon, that resembled a tablet of asprin dissolving.
He pulled over in front of City Lights bookstore to put us out and for him to park. We, three of us, ran across the street to the bar and we were just in time for traditional after-reading pizza delivery. I used one of the 10 dollar bills I’d just made for a beer and sat down to eat.
I felt good and the reading had gone better than I expected. I got to the bookstore a half hour before the reading and explored the shelves. The reading pays with books and all the books here are used and 5 or 8 dollars and because of their clients, good quality, and both popular and obscure. I scanned over the aisles just as the 80-something host wandered over to me. All flowing gray hair and huge moustache. He steps in front of me quietly and stops.
“Did you find the African American section,” he said, with a sober concern.
I almost broke out laughing, but bit my smile down. I loved him. Yes, I told him simply, though the shelf and a half worth of African American books was barely worth labelling as such.
The reading was at Reader’s Bookstore at Fort Mason Center. Every week they have two features. The audience came in and filled the room, more folks than I expected. The cofeature arrived sometime after and brought with her bottles of wine and slices of vegetables and falafels. She said she was waiting for her daughter to show and asked if I would go first. Of course.
I put my phone on the podium to record myself and after a few minutes watched as it silently went off with a rare incoming call. It was my friend who, I earlier mentioned this reading to and she said she couldn’t make it but asked if I’d record it and I told her I was and would send her an mp3. Looking at her name on my phone, I thought: So much for that. So much for wanting to post it here.
But the reading went fine. I read the newer pieces that emerged earlier this year, all while asking people to buy copies of my chapbook now because Christmas is Coming. The poems that really resonated, in ways I could unexpectedly feel as I was doing them, was the poem on Apologies that I wrote about last July. Even after I finished reading it, my heart felt swollen and I said: “That was … heavy.” And felt like I needed to read something funny.
I read a poem about Drunken Cuddling also. At the end of the night, back at the bar, an older Russian man at at the reading said, “I liked this poem but its too long.” He was right. The poem is about 6 or 7 stanzas, and though I like it, it spins its wheels a bit. Its a lot of description without moving forward. I know it should be trimmed down, but I’m too close to it to figure it out.
The co-feature was amazing and did poems on and inspired by the Palestinian/Israeli confict. She read with music, a zitar CD that flowed around her words. She read 4, 5 poems and said: “I’m tired, now. Is it almost the end?” And the host asked for another and she took of her jacket and read a poem featuring her daughter. A lovely night; I sold 6 or 7 books and joined several of the folks in the audience for the after reading pizza party at a literary bar in North Beach. I didn’t expect that reading or night to go so well or to come away feeling so good about, but there you go. Credit the full moon turning me into a more pleasant person.