not what i expected

my neighbor popped her head around the corner this afternoon as i was playing guitar. she asked me play louder so she could hear it over in her apartment (and she actually meant it). she was going to appear at a poetry reading this afternoon, and wondered if i might like to check it out. i said sure, thinking in the back of my mind that maybe there would be some cute poets hanging out. i wrote down the address and then rode my bike over.

it was at the strawberry creek lodge, a large senior citizen care facility several blocks away. i was a little apprehensive as i walked into the dining commons, where a mike had been set up and a group of ten or so residents of the home were sitting with about ten more poets from the outside. average age had to be about seventy. i was greeted by a woman in her early eighties, sitting with a sheaf of her self-published poems she later announced were on sale for 25¢ a poem, four poems to the bunch for a dollar each. most of the poets had similar loosebound poems for sale.

like any poetry reading, there was good and bad, but i was surprised at how many were moving, quiet reflections on defining moments in long lives. as one woman in her eighties joked, “i live here, or one might more accurately say i am dying here…” and these older poets had very little pretense to their poems. i guess when you’re towards the end of the line, writing for yourself, there is no embellishment, no anticipation of how words will be interpreted, only clean beautiful unvarnished truth. a few of the younger poets were really good too, particularly my neighbor’s observations of fathers and daughters together in parking lots and the loss of her own father when she was 12.

strawberry creek lodge (berkeley senior citizen home)






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