Not to mention there had just been a Wig Night and I am a lumpy gray butterfly that needs to rest psychically for at least a good week after a Wig Night. But Publishing Genius Adam Robinson was gathering indie lit forces in Jamie Gaughan-Perez's romantic Mt. Vernon Place apartment as part of the Indie Lit Roadshow happening in cities nationwide simultaneously. He put together two different sets of readers and I was flattered to be part of the early set, even if I felt like Willy Loman carrying my box of literary goods in the rain. Go ahead and stare pal! Get your fill! You too will age and diminish unless you get stuck with the worse alternative.
Speaking of Joe, Mighty Joe Young was there and he did not bite on my pain pill inquiries about his mysterious broken wrist.
"Yeah, I got a bunch of pain pills. Percosets, Oxymylarheartshapedoozydoos, Kimjongiliums, a bunch of stuff. Could fill a fuggin' pinata with 'em. But I haven't taken any. I guess I'll save some for when I want to escape reality."
"Yeah, right. Why escape reality?" says I, white-knuckling my coffee cup.
The reading was starting fairly late, because everybody was in a kick back Sunday vibe, shaking out their Lionel Richies and whatnot, but Adam had to get slightly assertive because he was double-booked, needing to get to the Essential Sundays reading hosted by Julie Fisher at four, where he would change from host into reader. This town is getting to be like literary New York of the 1950s. On top of these two readings, there was also The Benevolent Armchair reading happening at the Bromo Seltzer Building that day, hosted by Chris Toll and Barbara DeCesare.
I won't torture you or myself with a blow by blow of what turned into a pleasant Sunday afternoon of hearing some great writing. I was too fried to take notes on all the readers and my camera hit "Memory Card Full". Didn't want to sit there during a reader beeping out old photos to make room for new.
The other readers were Laura van den Berg who read from one of her short stories, John Woods, a former Baltimorean now living in Brooklyn, New York, who read from his book in process Baltimore Catastrophes, Jamie Gaughan-Perez, who read from his notebooks that he is filling while commuting to work in DC, Michael Kimball reading from his first novel The Way the Family Got Away and myself.
I will not go into detail of how my last second decision to read my tawdry homage to Julie Fisher's quest for the erotic got me into hot water, let's just say I actually saw a look of fear on Stephanie Barber's face. I had never seen fear cross her face before and it caused rivulets of sweat to cascade through my Borgnine backwig. Now, let's all sit back with some Egg Nog and enjoy Aparna and David's .................
The Atheist Holiday Poem
'Twas the night before the Big Bang, when all through the dark
Not an atom was stirring, not even a quark;
No stars were yet hung in the sky with no care,
To be wondered about much later: how are they there?
The strings of theories were still nestled in beds,
While visions of how things work were waiting for heads;
No mothers and fathers yet to buy their children crap
Made from the same stuff as when we were one point on a map.
When out in the void there arose such a clatter,
As energy exploded and turned into matter.
Anti-Matter and Matter competed to be
With matter winning by just a hair, you see.
The baryons forming were all aglow
Protons & Neutrons arranging just so,
Electrons charging and Quarks did appear,
Expanding faster and further than many light years,
In the life of the universe this all happened so quick,
Then the matter began to organize and stick.
Shapes and forms it rapidly became,
Eventually molding into things we could name:
"Now, atom! Now, molecule! Now, protein and enzyme!
On, mitochondria! On nucleus! On cell membrane and lysozyme!”
Yielding tissues and organs contained by cell walls,
And creatures that eventually could shop in a mall!
Oh the things that were formed for us to buy,
Mounting into heaps that pierced the sky,
And all over the earth and into space debris flew,
While the debts and inequities grew and grew.
It was astounding the greed which knew no roof,
That had been the result of one cosmic poof.
The Earth on its axis kept turning around,
While the trash piles grew by ounces and pounds.
Strip malls, cheese cake factories and smokestacks,
Taking over what used to be solid black.
As if it were permanent we strutted about
We ate and bought and built without doubt,
We claimed to have permission from a fellow called God,
Who when we killed for him would benevolently nod.
Only some of us could hear him and relate what he said
To the rest of us to abide, or live in hell when dead.
One of God’s cronies was called Santa Claus,
A legend quite supportive of the cause
Of compelling us to buy more things at Walmart
Using guilt and fear to coerce our hearts.
Looking back on it all it seems rather strange
That this is how the particles were arranged.
The feeling of our permanence was just a mirage
And our so-called advancements just a hodge podge
Of random arrangements of the baryons of yore
That eventually would be no more.
And just as it grew it would shrink back to a dot;
Our universe that was more meaningless than not.
But since we are all still here, let’s toast our wine
Merry holidays to all and to all… good luck.