THE UGLY MUG, NEW POEM, LEAVING LA: This is the THIRD attempt to publish this particular post. Blogger has ate the other two versions, which has seriously pissed me off. I digress...

The Ugly Mug reading in Orange, CA on Wednesday night was...to use my well-worn phrase...brilliant. I co-featured with Katya Giritsky (who I may have to build a shrine to later) and we had an almost full house with a very responsive and supportive audience. I must send beaucoup thanks to Ben Trigg and Steve Ramirez for having me back at their reading again. This is definitely one of the best places to read poetry in SoCal. During the reading, I got to see Shawn Turi again. She came to the dinner put together by Cecilia before the Redondo reading and we hit it off. She and her husband, John, run a fab little bookshop called Book Connection in the Bixby Hills area of Long Beach, and Shawn hosts a poetry series there. If I were ever going to open a bookshop, it would be just like Book Connection. Shawn is supportive, beautiful and a great supporter of poetry. Check out her series if you're ever in LA. I also got to meet Mifanwy Kaiser, who heads up the reknowned Tebot Bach in LA. She asked me to get in touch about doing a reading at TB when I'm back in LA. WOW! Now that is an honor. The great thing about going to a reading like The Ugly Mug is hearing new poets, like the hilarious Teka-Lark Lo. Her poem about "Hello Kitty" being a sad creature who "has no holes, can't speak safewords" cracked me up. Teka if you're reading...I want a copy of this poem.

While driving down to Orange from Long Beach, I started composing a poem in my head. There's something about being in LA that still mesmerizes me. I've only been there a few times, but I feel like I know the city intimately because of all the books, films and tv shows I've watched. This poem is a very rough draft, but it sums up some of the things I was feeling at the time:

Velocity

I'm not driving the freeway, it's driving me,
in herky-jerky motions, pushing me down
the 405 on a warm January night.

The convergence of cars at the Garden Grove exit
may be the closest I ever come to being in a school of fish.
We're all floating along, some racing ahead, some falling back,
others along side, the red tail lights bobbing in inky darkness.

Then I'm shot out into the junction, the road flattens out,
the cars fall behind and I could easily be floating in space,
the silence inside the car and in my head,
where just an hour ago my brain was backtalking,
telling me to pack up and go home, that I'm too old, too fat,
too set in my ways for this vagabond life.

The jaundiced bathroom light turned me into a corpse,
my whole body looked bruised, teeth yellow, the mirror
super-sizing me from all directions.
This is why people commit suicide in hotels - the bad lighting
revealing hidden flaws. You don't look like this at home.
Even dead, autopsy light would bleach out rough edges
in its white hot finality.

So it's the light that sends me running and the sea of lights
that save me, as I tramp down the familiar freeway,
hands in the three and nine on the rented wheel,
I press hard on the gas peddle, the velocity levitating
the pages of poetry riding shotgun, into the night we go,
shooting stars.

On Thursday morning, I found out my grandmother was seriously ill in the hospital. She was taken there by ambulance thinking she was having a heart attack. The doctors discovered she does have heart problems...she's not getting enough blood to the muscle. I decided to come home early, which meant cancelling my reading at the Spoken Word Salon in Ventura. This is the first time I've ever had to back out of a gig. I was so disappointed. I wanted to apologize again to anyone who might have come to see me and to host Gwendolyn Alley. I hope she will consider having me back in the fall. I spent most of Thursday getting my plane reservations changed, turning in the rental car, etc. Very hectic.

I'm home now. My grandmother is doing better. She's a tough lady, having battled breast cancer and other ailments. I have plenty of work to keep me busy this weekend, including the Georgia Poetry Society meeting tomorrow. Oh, and if you're looking for something to read, I highly recommend Mark Haddon's debut novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I read the book cover to cover at LAX and on the plane ride home and it's a great read.

More soon.

Comments

Molly said…
So sorry to hear about your grandmother, but glad to hear she's doing well.

Listening to Joni Mitchell's "Urge For Going." Be well.
Teamaster said…
Love the poem, Collin. Perfect:
"...the mirror
super-sizing me from all directions.
This is why people commit suicide in hotels - the bad lighting
revealing hidden flaws."

Good that your grandmother's health is somewhat settled!!!

Listening to Sonic Youth's DAYDREAM NATION.

-David

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