On New Year's Day, I went with friends to an open mike poetry event at a local writer's place.
An old mansion's living and dining rooms are the main salon for these events. On the living room side, nearest the lectern, the seating is gray folding chairs with silver and maroon upholstered seats. Further back, the metal chairs have no padding. In the last two rows, the chairs are while plastic lawn chairs. On the dining room side, odd bits of furniture—mismatched chairs and sofas and ottomans—host odd groupings of the faithful. At the back of the room, two small tables hold crackers and cheese, bagels, plastic trays of veggies and dip, olives, soda, water, gallon jugs of red and white wine.
A toddler runs loose among the crowd, scrambling up the wooden steps to the second floor, playing with the guitar case of the folk singer who wrapped up the afternoon program, squealing when he finds stray pretzels on the floor.
A petite red haired woman flits about, apparently unaware that three full inches of her ample midriff are spilling over the waistband of her gauzy black broomstick skirt, clearly visible beneath the edge of her too-small black velvet blouse. Her 14-year-old son tunes a guitar in the corner. An elderly gentleman sits in the middle of the room, reading a short poem aloud to himself, over and over. He stumbles over every line, different words tripping him each time through.
A middle-aged black woman holds the hand of a beautiful pre-teen girl. It's hard to tell who is supporting whom. They sit next to a tough looking young man with the most delicate hands and beautiful nails I've ever seen on a man.
The moderator calls the group to order and everyone except the toddler turns their attention to the readers, willing each to make it through.