Say What? A Night of Voices in San Diego

Last night was a night of poetry, music and good news. I read a couple poems from my next collection, The River-Fed Stone, at the Say What? open mic in San Diego’s North Park. I also read from my most recently published collection, Coyotes in Broad Daylight, along with the Poetry Through The Ages exhibit that will be posted on http://www.webexhibits.org in March and from Freedom of Vision, the anthology of inmate poetry and stories that I co-edited with author/teacher Stephen Gladish. All of this in seven minutes of allotted time, in a whirling dervish of a mini-tour of promoting my publisher and my books.

It turned out to be fortuitious – the event was filmed by a two-man production team (both of whom are good poets) for YouTube. Starting on Saturday, click onto YouTube, and search for Pitchfork Halo. You’ll see clips from most of the readers.

For anyone who lives around San Diego and wants to stay out on Wednesday nights, the Say What? open mic is one of several excellent open mic nights in the city. It was started three years ago at the Other Side Café in North Park by Lisa B, who has put on numerous club events in the city. Rather than making it a poetry-only affair, Lisa opened it up to all performing arts. So last night, we heard poets such as the soon-to-be-published and increasingly popular Maggi DeRosa (her book, The Fool Is King, comes out at the end of February), along with an opera singer performing part of Mozart’s Requiem, short story writers, and musicians. Since Maggi and I are embarking on a mini-reading tour in March to promote and sign our new collections, we decided to test-sail new poems at Say What? It turned out to be a fun, fun night.

Afterwards, I pulled out my newest poem, “Paths On A Face,” and read it to a small group of poets. Their response strongly suggested that I showcase it before The River-Fed Stone comes out, so check it out and let me know what you think:

PATHS ON A FACE

It comes to a point
when the smoothness of a face
doesn’t tell me so much
as the story of a line
that rolls from the corner of your mouth
to the side of your chin.

I want to know about the smiles
that, over time, created the line
much as tiny fissures in a cliffside
opened from ice, heat and time
to form the part of a canyon
visitors flock to photograph.

I want to know about the creases
honeycombing from the sides of your eyes,
a million tears of joy and woe
sliding across your silken skin
like a river riding bedrock and tumbling stones
in its melting current, its release.

I want to know about the furrows
lining your forehead like waves
birthed ten thousand miles away,
your thoughts riding a vision
that illuminates your eyes
as only a moment of revelation can do.

I want to know about the looks
you give me from eyes slowly receding
behind brows and sockets
sacred as grottoes of unspeakable grace,
portals of silence and secrets
calling me to join in your dance.

I want to know about the way
the lines on your face connect
when they measure a love
so deep within you
that the layers of your heart
burrow into the infinite to feed and rest.

It comes to a point
when the paths on your face
may affect your definition of spotless beauty,
but like rock formations and seascapes
of greatest composition and light,
no one can take their eyes off you.

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