Wednesday, June 1, 2016

An Erie poet visits Cleveland's Barking Spider Tavern for the first time to attend the 2016 Hessler Street Fair Poetry Contest and writes a poem about the experience

by Chuck Joy

not my last
the same parking ramp

I made my way to the shrine
no madonna, not even a grotto
a tavern, a drinking place
named after a species of jungle arthropod
limited food options

it’s midafternoon
the joint soon to overfill
maybe only one guy without his poem included in the anthology
selling like hotcakes, a woman at the griddle

I sat at a table in the back
three of us: me, a guy like me
white tee-shirt, him with no jacket
and a poet from Erie

my turn came around halfway
I gave an honest reading
maybe that crowd would have preferred their poet
wearing a visor and hunched over the microphone
delivering his message in an antique drone
yellow glow pouring from a lamp with a metal shade
they liked me okay

the host, experienced, kept us to our agenda
the judges completed their work
winners were chosen
I might have toasted them with more porter
if I weren’t a designated driver

Chuck Joy [photo by Chandra Alderman]

Chuck Joy is the author of Said the Growling Dog (Nirala Publications). From Erie, where he frequents Poets' Hall, Chuck has brought his poetry to Mac's Backs, Mahall's 20 Lanes, and has appeared at every Snoetry. His poem "The Call of The Water" was included in the 2016 Hessler Street Fair Poetry Anthology published by Crisis Chronicles Press.

The Barking Spider Tavern is located at 11310 Juniper Road in Cleveland.

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The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau