Open Mic


I want Stephen King to write an essay on open mics.

It would be similar to what he wrote for “On Writing.”

It would encompass these things:

1. Do not read from your personal journal

2. Do not read from your personal journal

3. Please do not read from your personal journal

4. Don’t perform Shakespearean plays.

5. Caveat to above, unless your Al Pacino–then go to town, but if you’re not and you do decide that you are going to perform a monologue, don’t tell the audience what it is about before you perform it.

Just fucking do the monologue.

6. If you have to explain it to me, you’ve already lost me.

7. Breathe

8. He’s not that cute, the bartender, and your hair extension is showing.

9. Turn off your phone

10. Yes, you are brave to get up in front of a group of strangers, so acknowledged, now stop reading from your personal journal, “you know” “like” “um” “what I am saying”.

Other random thoughts after tonight’s performance.  Some people have it and some don’t.

The guy I was laughing about last week, who I thought was doing a schtick, was, oh jesus, not doing a schtick, the slumped shoulder, cardigan, ascot, and wrinkled pants with the book clutched to chest is not an act.

Just because you are cute does not mean I want to listen to you.

I will fall down in intoxicated awe at your feet if you give me a good performance.  I don’t care what you look like, the tall, quiet, moon face Swedish girl knitting all night long in the shadowy corner of the cafe, you blew me away in your head rag and red-painted crimson lips, despite the circle scarlet framing the crooked, tobacco stained teeth, the sounds that issued forth from your mouth made me swoon.

Again please.

The rules of the open mic are such that you are always going to hear some one who sucks, some one who is nervous, some one who has no talent, but loads of charisma and chutzpah–so you actually pay attention to their clowning and find it amusing if slightly boorish–and the top hat does not hurt either, the quiet girl with the hound straddling a bench in the corner is amazing, don’t leave before you hear her do her own version of French hip hop improv rap, always different, always new–she takes French words from the audience and rhymes on command.


There are bad acts, good acts, then there’s you.

Practicing your poems in front of a two-year old and a four-year old in Asniers Sur Seine–I got a last minute baby sitting gig tonight before heading out to the open mic.

The back ground music is not the tinkle of ivories plunked out by a gangly French man with long hair and thin fingers, or the accordion shunting you up and down the stairs of the Metro.


It is the Micky Mouse Club House in French.

But if you can get the sounds of mouse out of the house in your head, you are golden.

I shared with a friend this evening who met me at the cafe, Le Chat Noir, 76 Rue Jean Pierre Timbaud, that I did not have a printer with me, I hand wrote it out in a journal (felt so old school), the majority of my work is in computer files, a lot here as well tucked into odd corners of my blog, white flagged by the category “poetry”.

Just in case you care to skip.

I know not everyone’s cup of tea is a sonnet.

However, I did get good response to my sonnet.

And the girl with the hair extensions and the ski slope plastic surgery nose, raved me up.

To the point that I almost felt bad for thinking trashy thoughts about the blonde synthetic hair pulling away from her scalp line.

But not enough to tell you that the bartender tells that to all the girls.

Note to boy at the end of the bar, hipsters don’t drink Long Island Ice Teas.

Douche bags do.


Did I say that?

I actually did let something slip, for which I will be putting that into my debit column tonight-I did say, out loud, “no, we don’t want to hear the end,” after another long personal journal entry with so many clichés I did not have enough sticks to shake at them.

I did cry tonight though.

Brought to sudden tears by a line that Alice Notley wrote.

She was the featured speaker tonight and it was really quite amazing to hear her and see a poetic legend read.  I cannot even tell you what the line was, but I can taste it and see it and it looks like the white light that shatters in the core of marbles that Rodin used to sculpt the head of John the Baptist.

It was a love poem that was not a love poem that was the first political poem I could stand to listen to the whole thing, a thing from another planet of time when the Kerouac’s, it’s his birthday today, happy birthday Jack, and the Ginsberg’s, the Alan Kaufman’s, the New York School whipped the world along in song and debauchery, politics and the licence to live as free and wanton as possible whilst searching to pull down the walls of the machine.

It felt like a poem from another age and I could hear the poet’s own struggles to show me, maybe just me, how to continue forward and how to not bend and how to be true to that voice that pushes out from me.

To also acknowledge I am good.

I am a performer, not the best, but I will not be falsely humble either, I have a good voice and I am a good reader.  And when I have a good breath in me, I can hold an audience.

I also write about sex, that said in the right tone of voice will keep attention on you.

I write about the politics of eros and negotiating my own way through it.

I have fun being breathy and just a little American tawdry with a wink of burlesque.

Just a little spanking of fun for you.

I will go back, to perform again, raise the welter of poems off my body and breathe out into the universe, or a small grotto cave of a cafe, my substantiate self for as long as I can.

Or the five-minute bell rings my time ended.

Whichever comes first, in Paris.


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One Response to “Open Mic”

  1. Sam WIlliams Says:

    Here is another review of ‘On wWriting’
    On Writing, by Stephen King – The first part of this book is an autobiography (which is interesting). But the second part is a must-read for any writer; it’s full of good, plain writing advice from a master of popular fiction. I don’t read Stephen King’s books (my imagination is far too vivid already, and I enjoy actually sleeping at night, thank you very much), but I recognize and admire his skill and achievements.

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