Dank P.h.a.r.t. the Pirate Poet Takes the Bus to The Bombay Gin Reading Series


I had to catch the bus because my wife had the car. I was ten minutes early as usual because I have missed too many buses by being just on time.  As I stood there waiting I spun in circles with my hands in the pockets of my pea coat feeling the wind on my face.  I find myself connected to my inner child and when I have an excess of time I often find myself playing with the surrounding environment such as jumping up on flower planters testing my balance.  This practice keeps things interesting and can make waiting for anything into an enjoyable experience.

The bus arrived on time.  It was almost empty except for a pretty young woman wearing a black skirt with pink and green flowers. I had recently watched “On The Road” and remembered a scene where Sal Paradise got on a bus and asked a women if he could sit next to her because he couldn’t find a seat even though the bus was empty. My mind played out a similar scene.  I sat down directly across from her and didn’t say a word. I think of these mental games as my yoga. My mind is always playing out scenes, some good and some horrific, that I have no desire to fulfill.  As the bus got going I pulled out my notebook and pen to attempt to capture this experience. The road was bumpy and my hand writing was shaky.  I thought to myself “I bet I look really cool with my pen and notebook,” yet felt stumped as how to capture what was happening right here and now. As we made our way into Boulder a young man with frat boy stylings, CU ball cap, button down shirt, blue jeans and way too much cologne got on the bus. Once his ass hit the seat he got sucked into his phone and was in that space til he gets off.  I departed at Arapahoe and 13th st.  The reading at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe (1203 13th St) didn’t begin for twenty minutes.  Some part of me felt being too early would be awkward so I decided to walk as slowly as possible.

I arrived about ten minutes early.  Innisfree was practically empty.  The few that were there were my friends from Bombay Gin, the literary magazine for Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (JKS). I have recently taken a leave of absence from the school.  This is the second reading in the series and I had organized and hosted the first one. It was relaxing being there as an audience member and not a facilitator. There was a table with issues of Bombay Gin, subscription signups, pins with Gertrude Stein next the letters ‘JKS’ and yellow stickers with a quote from Anne Waldman “Keep the world safe for poetry.”  I talked to my friends about what is going in my life since I left Naropa, paying rent with spare change, networking psychedelic harm reduction organizations, getting editorial opportunities with conscious culture webzines and spending time with the family.

Part of the reading series is an open mic. My friend Janelle signed up 3rd and wanted me to sign up before her so she doesn’t have to read first. There is always some contention about being the first to read at open mics. The spot sits there lonely waiting for someone with the spirit of adventure to place their name.  I signed up in the 2nd slot under my pen name Dank P.h.a.r.t. The Pirate Poet. For the first reading back in October I read under my legal name and this time I was going to take off the gloves and really expose myself to the audience without holding back.  7 o’clock rolled around and Innisfree was still relatively empty. Last reading the place was packed and the energy was buzzing.  I talk to my friends about the lack of audience. It turns out it was the birthday of one of the higher-ups on the Bombay Gin staff and a lot of the would-be crowd was drunk at their place.  At 7:10 they finally got started.

To kick the night off we read the news in the tradition of Akilah Oliver. As Tom Robbins would say “the international situation was dire as usual” and Kurt Vonnegut would say “so it goes.” Some highlights were Obama coming out and saying he was sorry for being wrong about health care and Ethiopa is becoming a symbol of what a sustainable Africa will look like. I wondered if Obama will ever say he’s sorry for selling out the earth to the corporate slave masters?

Next up was me.  I read ‘heART rEvolution.’ I would usually bring a visual aid to show the audience how clever I was with my spelling, but this time I decided that I was just going to let the work speak for itself. I read it with no holds barred to shake the foundation of Innisfree. In the poem I talk about how art is beyond theory, and make the call to all artists for rEvolution!  I feel I did it justice. As I walked back to my seat a friend told  me it gave them chills.

The rest of the readers were all world class.  To be a part of such an outstanding community is a living dream.  There were poems about cheap crusty chocolate cake that can’t be resisted.  Poems about poets who aren’t poets yet write really amazing poetry.  Poems about partners having to deal with the poet’s explosive awesomeness.  Poems about how the workload of grad school burns one out into a busted light bulb where crack and meth are being smoked out of it at the same time.  And many more amazing poems that elucidate the everyday life existence as we try and find meaning amidst violence and decay.

After the open mic Jennifer Dorsey read an archive piece written by Ted Berrigan about modern life and the polarities that are more apparent than ever before. A current example is the growing income gap between wealthy and poor. America is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world and currently there are more foreclosed properties then there are homeless yet because of the capitalistic thought paradigm they remain on the streets.

Then there were the features.  Up first was Jade Lascelles who runs Naropa’s Harry Smith print shop.   She read from some work that attempts to heal a traumatic experience before it occurs. The work confronts the horrors of reality and asks us to acknowledge the pain that is bound to occur as a way of healing. The final reader of the night was Ariella Ruth Goldberg who is a major part of JKS and helps coordinate all of the wonderful events they put on. For her reading I failed my duty as an audience member completely. As she got up to read I closed my eyes to help focus on her words, but I passed out almost instantly and only awoke to hear her last lines “Don’t forget to breath.” I have had this problem before, but it usually happens during plays. One time during undergrad at the University of Iowa I was attending one my best friend’s plays and passed out during the second act.  After the show I told him how great he was, but then a few months later we were having a heated discussion about something and he came out and said “fuck you, you fell asleep during my show.” Our other roommate had ratted me out. I am the best worst audience member. I will support you with my all but sometimes I can’t help failing epically by falling asleep.

After the readings everyone mingled and talked. I stood near a group of friends feeling awkward waiting to be brought into the discussion. Just another mental game which creates and edge for growth to happen.  There was a general consensus that, as usual after an Innisfree event, there will be a gathering at The Noname bar near Cosmo’s pizza on The Hill. I declined to go because I have no money. My friend Janelle says it’s a good decision because I have a baby. I respond “it’s not the baby that is keeping me from drinking it’s the lack of funds.  The baby is with mamma and will be fine.”

I had to catch the bus in about 15 minutes and make my home way from Innisfree.  As I walked past D.P. Dough near Arapahoe and Broadway I turned to look back and see some dear friends of mine, Max Toast and Sophia.  I call out to them and we exchanged greetings. They were on a journey to buy a bottle of some intoxicating beverage.  We headed in the same direction for a few blocks and talked shop about New Basics Wednesday at 303 Vodka (every Wednesday 730pm, 2500 47th st), for which i am the open mic poetry host and which is the greatest event happening in Boulder and you should all go to it because it is a stronghold of intellectual, bohemian culture.  We parted ways with hugs and I headed off to the bus station.

I arrived  a few minutes before the bus. As I sat and waited I noticed a man who regularly rides the same bus. He is a mentally handicapable individual who is convinced that we are old friends and always invites me to call him and come visit with my brother. I haven’t had the heart to tell him that we don’t actually know each other.  I was wearing a green stocking cap and hoped he didn’t recognize me.  I have this nightmare that he is at his place of residence waiting for a call from me that will never come and I just keep leading him on. One of these days I am going to let him know that we are strangers, but I wasn’t up to it that night.  The bus arrived and I let the man get on the bus first and waited a short bit on the bench.  As I boarded the driver recognized me from earlier because of my hat.  It was a disguise on one hand but stuck out like a sore thumb on the other. I sat close to the back away from the man.  There was no one on the bus except me and him.  The man kept looking back.  I held my hand over my beard hoping he wouldn’t recognize me.  I felt silly, but I made it all the way home without being discovered.  Stepping off the bus a wave of relief swept over me.  I made the short walk home thinking that soon I will have to confront the situation head on.

The Bombay Gin Reading Series takes place the second Saturday of each month at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe.  Be sure to like Bombay Gin on facebook so you can keep in touch with all the awesomeness that it is and check out New Basics Wednesdays https://www.facebook.com/events/1409197122635496/

– Dank P.h.a.r.t The Pirate Poet