Phyllis’ is a dive.
I’ve kept my contacts in too long.
I walk in and a guy wearing a disco t-shirt is tuning a keytar.
The elderly couple behind me has their books out, going over their lines.
I down a cheep beer within minutes and almost forget to tip the bartender.
The woman running the show says she doesn’t recognize me. I tell her it’s my first time reading at all.
I order my second beer. The bulk of the crowd clears me by at least a decade.
I’m on second.
She calls my name.
I remind myself I’m at a dive.
Something happens when I step 6 inches onto that stage
The people blur
The noise turns white
I open my mouth to speak and it’s like I can’t stop talking
and I don’t want to
I feel grateful in such a way I hope to articulate someday
In the seconds it takes me to walk back to my bar stool, I picture a venue with more people
And me memorizing my lines.
And while the scene is different it all feels the same
The people that go one after me recite an altered version of The Gettysburg Address for a Ken Burns Challenge
There is a man that stands behind them wearing pleather pants and playing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” on a flute.
When he goes back to his seat he tells me he liked my poem.
I feel like something changed in me
and yet I’ve never felt more like myself