Open Mic--Presented by the All You Can Eat Waffles Writing Group

I wrote this piece and submitted it to a local theater, but, alas, they didn't want it. I'm hoping they didn't want it because it just didn't fit and not because it sucks. Who knows? This piece was designed to be broken up into three sections and presented during an evening of one act plays. Sooo....if anyone out there ever wants to perform some of these for real, or needs some material for short films, let me know. You can read all the Open Mic Scenes here.

CHARACTERS 

CONNIE—in her 60s or so. Still connected with the hippie generation. Believes words have the power to heal and transform.

CARL –30-?? A burly truck driver. A man’s man. Likes to write inappropriate haiku while he drives his big rig.

MELODY— Connie’s teen granddaughter who is being forced to live with Connie while her mom’s in rehab.

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PART ONE

 

CONNIE: Hello. Hello, everyone and welcome! Now, I know you’re here to see some plays and that’s great, but I’m not actually a part of that. No. I’m here with my troupe of writers from the Open Mic And All You Can Eat Waffle Night Writing Group. Sadly, due to some errors in pyrotechnics the last time, iHop will no longer allow us to present our poems there. So we have been forced to make a desperate move of our own, in the hopes that we can continue our soirée with words, and each other. Thankfully, this theater was presenting some work tonight and said we could squeeze in here when the stagehands were resetting with a few readings…as long as there were no fireworks involved. Or drugs. Fireworks and drugs are strictly for the after party.

Tonight, we have a few readers for you to illuminate your minds and transform your spirit. My granddaughter Melody is in the audience and will perform a piece she has written about recovery. She is thrilled…

MELODY (offstage): Fuck you grandma!

CONNIE: (collecting herself)…to be here and I am thrilled to have her with me. All the time. Under my constant supervision. We were supposed to have Mabel with us as well, but Mabel was attacked by her precious tomcat and is recovering at home. However, I will read one of her pieces. First though, I’d like to begin by introducing Carl. Please welcome Carl.

(Carl enters. He’s not a great performer. He’s wearing jeans, boots, a flannel shirt, and an inappropriate baseball cap. He takes the mic, while Connie watches uncomfortably from the sidelines.)

CARL: Hi. Hi there. Hi. I’m Carl. I’m a big man and I drive a big rig, but I’ve got poetry in my soul. I like to write words, haiku mostly, while I travel the country. I’m inspired by beauty, hookers, and pancake buffets. I’m self-publishing a book of haiku and you can buy that on my website. Here’s my poem. It’s a poem from Spring to Winter.

From Spring To Winter Winter, I want to Lick your cold cleft with my tongue Til your waters gush

That there was a hai-ku. I like hai-ku most of all because it really gets my thoughts across. Here’s another one. This one is about one of them there roses or the like.

To One Of Them Roses Your moist petals … I want to nestle my nose In your bloom and breathe

And then I have one about a peach. A nice ripe peach. I call it Peach.

Peach Your pink succulence- Warm juice dribbling down my chin- My tongue lives in you

I’ve got bout a hundred more or so of these. When I’m on the road, this is what I like to think about. You know. Nature. Womany nature. I could go on and on…

CONNIE: Uhm. Thank you. Thank you Carl. That is quite enough. We will leave you momentarily and be back with more poetry to take you to the edge and transform you.

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PART TWO

 

CONNIE: Well. That was certainly a play with notes of sadness, and desperation. My favorite notes of all. While we take this interlude, I would like to introduce my lovely granddaughter, Melody. Like her name, her words are a song. Melody?

MELODY: (offstage) No!

CONNIE: Come on, now, Melody. We agreed.

MELODY: I didn’t agree to shit, Grand-ma.

CONNIE: (containing her anger) You did agree to this.

MELODY: Give me twenty bucks.

CONNIE: What?

MELODY: Twenty bucks. This bird doesn’t sing without some seed.

(Connie tries to pay her quickly without making a scene. Melody approaches the mic reluctantly. She is wearing all black, dark makeup, and looks generally disgruntled. Piercings would be a plus.)

MELODY: I’m Melody. But you can call me Pain. Here’s my ‘whatever’ poem. You think you know pain? You don’t know shit. Pain is me on the bathroom floor crying my eyes out The wind whipping through the busted-in window While mom is passed out on the couch. Too much booze and blow Too much hope snorted and released into the ether Too much regret and oblivion. I have regret too. You want to think life is poetry? There is no poetry here. Poetry is for the dreamers, the believers, the Justin Biebers. Poetry is for the demented, the escapers, the matinee crowd. I’ve got my boots firmly planted In the dung heap of reality. And when I’m old enough, When I can get out on my own I will climb this dung heap and make reality My Be-otch.

(She crumples her poem up and raises a fist then tosses it in the air and stomps off.)

CONNIE: Well. Okay. That was…just…lovely. I liked…the part…about the dreamers? The, uhm, idea, that poetry…can transform? And make…er…people…dedicated. Yes. We will return in a few moments with a final piece. Uhm. Thank you. Thanks.

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PART THREE

 

CONNIE: (somewhat harried and downtrodden at this point)

Wonderful! Wonderful! I am so inspired by all of these words that your playwrights have penned. It’s, well, why I started my little poetry group in the first place. To inspire and encourage people to use words to express their soul…out loud!

CONNIE: And now, the piece from Mabel, who unfortunately was attacked by her Tom Cat when she was holding him and he scratched her retina. Both retinas. With his demon claws. Ah. And, ironically I guess, her poem is TO her Tom Cat. Here it is:

(Connie reads dramatically as if savoring every word.)

TO TOM, MY CAT

Tom Cat, Tom Cat Sit on my lap fat I love you so much That I have a hunch We will be Together Forever.

Tom Cat, Tom Cat Sit on the front mat And I will…

(Connie looks at the paper, half of which is shredded.)

Ah. It appears this is where the attack occurred and frankly…frankly it’s not a very good poem. There! I’ve said it. That was a terrible poem. I would’ve scratched her eyes out too! And you know…most of the poems people read at our Open Mic nights are awful. In fact, they’re so awful that I question the very validity of reading anything out loud. I question the whole point of any of this. I mean, Carl, and his cunnilinguist haiku is just…absurb! And Mabel! Your poem of despair is so…so…common! I could write a better poem without any words at all. In fact, I’ll do it right now. Here is my poem to every one who has given me such crap over the years, who’s made me work so hard to get words out there, who’s ignored my poems and books and collection of essays on the feminine spirit, who’s closed your eyes and ears to me and my words and my passion. Here’s my poem to you!

(She victoriously holds up her middle finger.)

In fact, here’s another poem!

(She holds up her other finger. Freezes for a moment. Withdraws her hands. Looks around. Collects herself.)

(Melody approaches Connie and does a slow clap, encouraging the audience to join in.)

MELODY: Grandma, that was…

CARL: Cunnalovely.

MELODY: Amazing. Just fuckin’…like…wind beneath my wings worthy. I’m sorta proud we share DNA.

CARL: (to Connie) It makes me want to share DNA with you too.

CONNIE: Well. Okay then. Thank you. (Realizes the audience is still there). So. All right. Even though we only have three members, one of which is forced to be there, we will be holding an Open Mic night at Pal’s Indian Lunch Buffet next month. I hope…I hope you’ll join me there. Thank you.

#

My Dear John Letter To Summer

Dear Summer, I’m writing to tell you that I’m breaking up with you. I’m serious. We’re done. And I know I’ve told you that before, but you never seem to listen, so maybe you will when you have these concrete words in front of you. I don’t love you. Maybe I never have.

I don’t mean to be cruel, but you’re not LISTENING to me. You keep coming back around with your 90-degree hotness and humid breath. We are not an item. WE ARE NOT. Do you get that? There’s a reason why I hide from you in my house with the AC cranked. You make me uncomfortable. You make me sweat. We’re done. D-O-N-E.

You’re not a bad person, exactly. I mean, I know you’re right for SOMEONE. Go hang out in the jungle or in Miami beach…you know, places where people like to wear bikinis or banana leaves and stuff. If I wore a bikini, the brightness of my skin would cause planes to crash and upset the migratory patterns of Canada geese, and I hate those fuckers with their man-sized droppings.

I need more from a relationship. I need warmth in the form of clothing I pick out for myself and wear in LAYERS. I don’t need warmth automatically provided for me. I do not want your Hothouse of Love. I want legwarmers. There. I said it. Now you know. I. Want. Legwarmers.

 

 

You and I both know who I’m talking about. I’m talking about Autumn. God, I can’t get enough of her. She’s so brightly colored in hues I find pleasing and calming. Sometimes she cries buckets of rain, and I’m good with that. I understand MOODS. I understand DARKNESS. I want to cook Autumn a pot roast and season it with bacon. You, Summer, you’re all “Oh, I’m a Farmer’s Market. Look at my bounty! I’m a vegan!” Well, Autumn’s got bounty too. PLENTY of it. She’s stacked. Apples, squash, potatoes…and then later….TURKEY.

You can’t compete with turkey. And, you know, I’ve heard there are turkeys who eat VEGANS. (Just sayin’.)

 

I know this is harsh. I know that and I apologize, but you just don’t seem to hear me. I need you to go away.

That means NOW. Right now. Go away. For a while. A long while. We need some space. Autumn is going to be here any moment and it’s going to be awkward for all of us if you’re still, you know, hanging around, fluttering around the backyard and shining on stuff. Just, stop it. Stop.

We can still be friends. I mean, you’re a perfectly nice person and all. It’s just like in that Gotye song “Somebody That I Used To Know”. Now you’re just a somebody to me because Autumn—man, AUTUMN—she’s got me hooked. I’m counting the days until she gets here. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth.

Go make someone else happy with your splendor. Someone who lives really far away, like in the South…or Australia. Yeah. Go to Australia. There are hobbits there who need you.

 

Sincerely,

Your friend,

Tanya

 

 

One of my earliest bad poems

You all know I'm a fan of bad poetry. It's just so luscious. So satisfying. And if you can't write good poems (which I can't) you ought to enjoy being bad at it. I enjoy it all the time. On Facebook yesterday, my childhood friend Melissa posted this poem. Apparently she found it in a box of stuff. I even signed the poem, probably thinking one day I'd be famous. I must've convinced her because she's kept it for twenty years.

I must've been ten or eleven when I wrote this. Maybe a bit older.

Melissa and my mom were great friends, then we became friends first because of pressure, and then because of choice. She was older and wiser and more sophisticated than me. We lived across the street from each other for a time. She lived in a cute Victorian house. I remember there were completed puzzles all over the walls. And she had a collection of 45 records. Is that what they're called? She introduced me to the song "I'm Your Venus" by the classic band Bananarama. I was shocked when I heard it. I thought it said "I'm your penis".

I was a homely little girl. I was, as some of you know, often mistaken for a boy. Getting my hair cut at the barber's didn't help. Melissa, though, was glamorous. She wore makeup and had curly hair and knew stuff. One day she even did a makeover on me. A real 1980s Bad Movie kind of makeover with huge hair and full makeup. I remember going to school and reading to my little 1st grader buddy and my buddy saying "You look different today. You look so pretty."

I don't remember writing this poem, but I do remember one line. I'm sure it was inspired by our frequent games of Monopoly in which Melissa often beat me. I found my revenge though...through words.

Even as a preteen, I was pretty good at bad poetry. Here it is:

Monopoly by Tanya Eby

As we sat face to face I saw the joy come over her. She smiled I frowned she laughed I cried, somehow. She took my house she took my land she took my money too. She laughed I cried I shot her she died. So, now I sit here with nothing to do 'cause I just went bankrupt, somehow Oh, all this happened in just one day over a simple game of Monopoly...

 

Bad Ode-- Ode to Rain -- By Schulyer & Tanya

LIke a good flash thunderstorm, I present you with a good (bad) flash ode...written by Schulyer Esperanza and Tanya Eby. Follow Schulyer on Twitter @ReadersInk . Try your own flash bad ode, or write one with a friend. It'll make you feel good for being able to be so bad.

ODE TO RAIN

You are little drops of hell on my head

You're like that Chinese Water Torture

(or is that politically incorrect?)

…anyway…

Rain,

You're a cold bastard.

I wipe you from my face

And wash you from my hair

Like I did that loser from last night;

I'm cold as you are.

And like that dude from last night

You better bring me flowers

Or I will never

Ever

Forgive you.

Rain.

 

 

 

Bad Ode-- Ode To Spring--Pole Dance Of Love

Oh, Spring, glorious Spring

You’re like one of those dancers,

you know,

a lap dancer

where you taunt and tease and titillate,

but The Man can’t touch!

Oh, no. He can’t.

You just want his dollar bills.

You tease me like that, Spring,

and it’s worse because I don’t even have

a dollar to give you.

You seduce me with promises of

flowers and birdsongs

and balmy nights where I can wear nothing

but a secret

and yet

and yet

you hit me with ice.

You’re frigid, Spring.

Open up for me, please.

I want you.

I need you.

I go down on my knees for you.

Show me the full monty, Spring,

and I,

I will give you everything,

which admittedly isn’t much,

but I will give you my love.

And a dollar…as soon as I earn one

on this internal pole from which I hang

with one leg wrapped around

and the other reaching

reaching

reaching

out

to

you.

Bonus! Bad poetry! To the Dude on the corner....

I feel like writing bad poetry. Here's one for you now:

TO THE DUDE IN FRONT OF THE

FRIEND OF THE COURT BUILDING

Today, walking to my job carrying a mighty

Jimmy John’s submarine

or grinder

or sammich (what have you)

I passed a guy on a cellphone.

He was just an average guy

in baggy jeans

with the rim of his boxershorts showing...

like a little secret saying “Hi there!”

I walked past you

and you watched me

and I heard you say into the phone

loud as a breaking plate

“Man, will you stop being an A-hole.”

You, tough man, said A-hole.

Then I passed and stood on the corner

and I could still hear your words

“I said A-hole, man. What do you mean

what’s an A-hole? It’s an ASS hole. You’re

being an ASS hole. I just didn’t want to say it

just then.”

I smiled as I crossed the street,

scent of sammich wafting up.

I think you said A-hole for my benefit,

reminding me that perhaps somewhere out there

someone still thinks

I

am a tender flower.

Thank you, dude. Thank you.