I go to a fair number of these. Some are transcendent–moving, dynamic, inspiring. That’s why I go, and go again. But all often, they go more like this:
The fellow reading poetry at us wouldn’t stop.
Nothing would dissuade him:
not the stifling heat; the smoky walls
with their illuminated clocks;
our host, who shifted anxiously
from foot to foot.
Polite applause had stiffened to an icy silence:
no one clapped
or nodded. No one sighed.
Surely he must have understood we had families
waiting for us, jobs
we had to get to in the morning.
That chair was murdering my back.
tasted unaccountably of uric acid.
Lurid bullfight posters flickered
in the red fluorescent light —
& suddenly I knew that I had died,
& for those much too windy readings of my own
had been condemned
to sit forever in this damned cafe.
A squadron of enormous flies
buzzed around the cup of piss
I had been drinking from.
Up at the mike, our poet of the evening
& flicked his tail,
& kept on reading.