Exit/In

Speckled dots among the dim light,
the strongest from the bathroom
that says Men’s.

We are scattered and together and solitary
each song brings something that no one else feels the same way
we hope for someone that understands,
someone that feels something from it as well
and sings along to the songs we know.

The crowd ahead, hats and hairdos
melding in the heat of bodies stacked together
silly jokes, only we will get, from the microphone
we won’t be able to repeat them
or remember them
they’re not really funny anyway,
only because we were there.

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Open Mic Night

microphoneOne side of the stage is demanding, demeaning. Exhilarating and exhausting. Humiliating, humbling, ego-boosting. All for the laugh, the clap, the smiles. People giving enough of a shit to heckle.

The other side is cynical. Make me laugh. Tell me something funny monkey boy. Tell me something I haven’t thought of. Tell me about ninja turtles throwing baby turtles and why they wear masks. Just make me laugh.

This is going to bomb. Or not. I’ve got to try it or I’ll never know. I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t. It depends on this next joke. Okay, okay, fuck it, here goes…

What was it that guy said? It was dumb, but I guess it was kind of funny. I could be funnier than that guy. Wait, funnier? Is that a word? See, right there, I could talk about that for five minutes, easy. I don’t know, maybe funnier isn’t that funny.

I fucked up the timing, but that one was okay. I gotta finish strong. This is a good closer. Even if everything fails I still have this closer to fall back on. Oh shit, wait, how’s it go? Fuck me, how’s it start? If I start it I’m good. Fuck…

This guy is okay. He had a few moments. Just give me one more good one to go out on and I’ll think you’re funny. Just one good one.

Okay, got it, thank fuck. Now deliver. Make them laugh. Laugh at the things I say. Please.

That was good. I’ll give you that. Pretty funny stuff. Thank you for making me laugh. You held up your end, so I’ll clap for that. In this god forsaken life, thank you for making me laugh.

“Thank you.” Oh thank god they clapped. I’ll sleep well tonight. I’ll sleep tonight.

Two gentlemen meet at the bar moments later, waiting their turn. “Nice job man. That was funny.”

“Thanks man.”

They sip their beers in silence. There’s nothing left to say really.

Babe

styx babe

Babe I’m leaving, I must be on my way
the time is drawing near

I can still hear the intro. That fucking piano twinkling out the cheesiest music box, ballerina twirling in the light of a desk, intro to a song ever created. Thanks Styx. Really, I have nothing against Styx. They are one of my dad’s favorite bands. And uncle’s. And they still tour all the time, so, clearly, countless others. But having to sing that song as a seventh grader in mandatory Choir class made me hate it. Hate it sooo much. When I hear it at Kroger and it sends shivers up the back of my neck it reminds me how much I hate it, even still.

I’ve brought it up to co-workers and friends. It has become a topic of conversation at times. I know it’s ridiculous, but deeply embedded in my soul is the pain of ‘Babe’. It’s like scratching a chalkboard or a fork scratching a plate or tearing your fingernail, which I am also slightly petrified of as well, but hearing that song irritates me in that same way. It makes me cringe; you know, that physical, convulsive cringe that you can’t really explain to someone standing next you. It’s like a pee shiver, but a clenched teeth, squinting, butt clenching, toe curling, unpleasant pee shiver.

You know it’s you Babe
whenever I get weary and I’ve had enough

We had to sing it over and over, our pubescent voices crackling out in an uninterested drone. It was torture. Most of us had no interest in Choir, but being forced to be there stoked a defiance already found in teenagers like it was nature following it’s course. We joked, we laughed, we talked, occasionally we sang, but mostly we were an annoyance to our teacher. He knew we didn’t want to be there and he probably didn’t either much of the time, but he still had a class to teach and concerts to put together without a major meltdown. Looking back, he did a pretty good job, as far as I can remember. I don’t remember anyone going crazy during a concert, although, to be fair, I don’t remember much of seventh grade anymore. And thank god! Who wants to relive those years?

All that said, I still kind of blame him for my hatred of that song. And I still fucking hate that song. Fuck you Styx, you talented sons’a’bitches. Of course, I could be wrong. If you are unfamiliar of this song I recommend you give it a listen. You might think the song’s great and I’m just an idiot. And if you already know and love the song, I’m not the least bit sorry for what I’ve said about Styx. That’s what art is all about. If you love it, then love it with all your heart because I’ll be over here hating it with all mine. And that makes it fun. And maybe you know and hate it as well, or are listening to it right now thinking, man this song sucks. To you all, I give mental high fives. You guys rule!

Babe I love you.

Smells

Nose

the combined smells of a slowly filling room stay apart,
unsure of who to meet with
hesitant, for who is an ally?

someone farts a few feet ahead of us
they know it, we know it, but we only drift a few small steps away so we don’t lose our spot
not even a customary crop dust
no, I can see the person that farted
swaying side to side, talking to friends
just a few steps ahead
the arrogance of the scent
it’s a momentary concern
unpleasant, but momentary

the smells still distinct
the farter has made their mark, but they are just one of the many

as the music begins the crowd pushes closer to the stage and the smells begin to mingle
and become friends

with the swell of sound and beer cans tossed into trash bins, we squeeze closer
the room nearly full, the songs build upon one another and we sweat together, dancing, drinking, watching musicians play songs we love and some we will grow to love
b.o., burps, farts, dirty socks, sweat, beer
they blend as one as we lose track of them and ourselves
we stink, there is no doubt about that, but dammit, we stink together.