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On Break At Open Mic
by Larry Crist

The big-round-the-middle
beret wearing bearded bespectacled
poet aficionado
complains about the lack
of respect
our venue has
for the spoken word

Earlier this evening
we witnessed Charlie
attempt to read Robert Browning
whose metre he ransacked like a hun
whose rhyming couplets he butchered like Hannibal Lecter
whose very meaning he dismembered like a surgeon with palsy
But this breezy assessment is not fair
to Huns, fictional serial killers
or doctors plagued by disability
as even the meanest mofo with
ham-hock sized mitts
and blunt cleaver
could not do to R.B.'s verse
what Charlie did

I respect the old critic
careful as he lights a smoke around his wiry stash and beard
leaning into his cane
He never reads his own
but will on occasion
read one of the dead ones
name-dropping the obscure
keeping memory of their memory alive

Open mics coast to coast would benefit from more like him
One Charlie per venue as well
to help determine how far we've come
where we've been
and how far astray
we still can go


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