When a poet or a writer says their book is hot off the press, it usually isn't meant to be taken literally.
When I put The Cantab Anthology together in 2012, about thirty of the one hundred books I picked up actually were still warm from the Goutenburg machine. And while our new chapbooks had barely been finished printing when we picked them up on our way out of Cambridge they were not, alas, warm. Even though Bobby's cover is made of fire.
They were, however, still fresh. Both audacious and brand new. Much like this tour. And much like Bobby's limp.
The rumor that I gave him that hobble when he mentioned being the headliner of this tour is vicious and untrue. The rumors that I started that rumor, however, are accurate.
Bobby's limp, like my ability to drive a car, is not new, it's just not something constant in his life. Also like my ability to drive a car, no one knows where it came from but it looks simultaneously practiced and accidental and is, at times, distressing.
After a brief stop at My Problematic (formerly Racist, but she's been diversifying her prejudices) Grandmother's house, we made it to Wallingford where the lovely Adele and Josiah were waiting for us.
Our premier show was to be a live broadcast public access show where we would be performing "more than 20 minutes of poetry". There had been talk of a puppet show, a theater troupe that did a lot of work for/about mental illness, and a recently formed improv troupe. And about a half an hour before we started we found it would just be us and the improv group who wanted to "interact" with our poetry, a phrase whose possible trainwreck factor had both Bobby and I in wide-eyed agreement that we would like this to happen and be recorded for posterity.
We started precisely on time with just Bobby and I, sitting in comfy armchairs like we were the new sarcastic hosts of a Whitesterpiece Theater show. I opened with "Hello, I Wrote You A Song Called Welcome To The Jungle", Bobby followed with "Love Is A Hernia" and then we abandoned our set list entirely. In no particular order, Bobby nearly ran over Junot Diaz, I struggled to have a Christmas conversation with my father about Ferguson and Eric Garner, Bobby argued his identity with a liquor store clerk, I tried to discuss gender norms using street team sales tactics and homophobic dudes in love, and then....then something magical happened.
Bobby had just finished his poem about dinosaurs, and I saw that the improv troup, consisting of a Hulk Hogan impersonator, a Wolverine impersonator, a guy in a Ghostbusters track suit, a woman dressed as a Native American, and a blues guitarist were in the back. So I said something to the effect of, "Well, the subject of dinosaurs seems to be a good time to bring on the improv troupe." because it did.
The leader of the troupe said "I don't know anything about dinosaurs but I want to know where that missing plane in the Atlantic is." which didn't seem much related to anything either of us had said (although Bobby later did a poem that mentioned the Wright Brothers, so maybe he was prescient). The next fifteen minutes revolved around "Hulk Hogan" talking about 1984, trying not to swear but using the word "bitch" (which I SHOULD have riffed off of with my poem about the word, but I was FASCINATED by what was happening around me), the woman dressed as a Native American talking about spirits, and a brief conversation wherein Hulk Hogan and Wolverine argued about who was stealing whose voice.
From the audience came a chant of "Po-e-try. Po-e-try." in the rhythm of the Cantab "Three Word Chant!" so...so, the improve troupe decided it was time for Hulk Hogan to freestyle over a blues guitar riff. Which was really everything I'd dreamed of since I was told the improv troupe wanted to "interact" with us. When the song was done, Hulk Hogan picked the seventy year old woman dressed as a Native American in the air, as though he was about to piledrive her. There was a brief silence before the chant of "Po-e-try. Po-e-try." picked up again, and the troupe went downstairs to plan their next set.
During the troupe's performance, Bobby had turned to me and said "YOU'RE following that."
So I did "How To Survive A Sixty Hour A Week Job On Just Above Minimum Wage" which sort of related to Wolverine and completely related to my usual existence of utter bafflement of what was happening all around me. And while Bobby followed it up, I went into the audience and asked Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib to step in and do a poem, which was, as expected, stellar, and something I'd never heard him do before.
We each did a few more poems, ending with Bobby reading his poem about giving inaccurate tours of Boston to his friends and family, and we headed outside where he and Josiah smoked, and Hanif, Laura Willis-Abdurraqib, and I commiserated. The improv troupe closed the night with a story about the Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Elizabeth love triangle.
We ended up back at the amazing Adele and Josiah's house, where we talked slam gossip, the trials of love, and how many parts per million of air to carbon is allowed in your house compared to what is allowed at a business (hint: what's considered too dangerous to be legally allowed in your home is totally acceptable in a space where someone is making money off your labor).
This morning we had a quick breakfast, managed to NOT to leave anything behind, and drove to Brooklyn, after a brief stop in North Haven, Connecticut where, apparently, every one in town is part entitled sloth, part daredevil, as they all drive and walk very slowly in very dangerous situations.
Barring internet issues, I should be posting snippets of the video we recorded during the first portions of our car trip tonight.
There should also be a post up at Drunk In A Midnight Choir in the coming days!
After tonight's show at Beauty Bar, we're headed to Columbus Ohio for a New Year's Eve Celebrity Board Game And Wine Party. And then....The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.