Note (2022): This story was written in 2013 at a time when it was possible to go to poetry readings seven nights a week in and around Boulder. Certain elements were fictionalized. Do not take this as a currently updated accurate calendar.
“Hey GITCH,” I said to Get in The Car, Helen, “Do you realize this week there are poetry readings you can go to every single night?”
“What?!,” GITCH said.
“It’s true. I think I’m going to go to every one of them and read something. I think I’m gonna try to complete The Cycle.”
“That’s crazy. You’re only supposed to go to like one or two a week at the most, otherwise you’re going to get Burnt Out on Poetry.”
“What’s Burnt Out on Poetry?”
“It’s when you lose all faith in the meaningfulness of poetry. You start to hate it and everyone who reads it including yourself. Then you want to totally surrender and go work at a bank.”
“That will never happen to me, GITCH. I’d bring my Guardian Angel The Goddess of Faith to all the readings.”
“She’s the one who makes everything alright if things get bad?”
“Yup, that’s her. If I pull this off I could prove that The Boulder Poetry Scene is thriving and make someone in a town with one or zero poetry readings a week go ‘wow!”
“If anyone can complete The Cycle it’s you and your Angel.”
“Alright, I’m going to try.”
The Goddess of Faith and I went to The Laughing Goat (1709 Pearl) for Boulder’s longest running weekly open mic hosted by local poetry fixture and Beat Book Store owner Tom Peters.
“We’re going to have a great time tonight!” The Goddess said and kissed me.
Whenever the Goddess of Faith touches you a powerful sensation known as IT’S ALRIGHT, BABY! enters your body and makes you feel like everything is entirely and non-negotiably alright. The IAB! gave me the confidence to sign up and read a new story I’d just written for the totem themed edition of Semicolon magazine, Naropa University’s all-inclusive counterweight to Bombay Gin. It was about one time when some asshole accidentally left a cursed totem pole in the back of my cab. The story was a hit, my voice and gestures came naturally. I delivered it true and people clapped genuinely for me. I was feeling good and then read another one about the time I found a girl whose leg was caught in barbed wire and a mean cop tried to handle the situation and just yelled at everyone. It made Tom recount a story of his own in which he had tried to be a good samaritan and the police made it seem like he was the bad guy. Tom recounting a story after you read is the highest praise you can receive at The Laughing Goat mic.
“Ye-es!” I said to The Goddess of Faith, “This is going to be the greatest seven poetry readings in a week week ever.”
“I know!” she said.
And then me and The Angel went home and had glorious and perfect IT’S ALRIGHT BABY! sex.
I guest hosted Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Café’s weekly open mic for the awesome regular host Asalott who needed the week off. The Goddess of Faith came with me again. And I did the whole thing disguised as The Beast, the part of myself that hates me and everything I do.
“I now know The Beast is a fool,” I told Faith. “And I’m really gonna sock it to him with this performance.”
I’d come up with a script in which The Beast hates poetry at the beginning of the reading and insults everyone but he gradually warms up to it and by the end loves it more than anyone and encourages everyone to never give up on their true passions. I executed flawlessly and the crowd cheered for The Beast’s Grinch-like transformation.
“Haha,” I said to The Goddess, “We’re never going to see the stupid Beast again!”
“Good riddance!” she said.
Then we went to NoName bar with all the poets from the reading. As always there was wild swing music and friendly bartenders and the whiskey was strong and flowing. I told everyone who would listen about The Truth of The Boulder Poetry Scene.
“We are just as legitimate as any other poetry scenes anywhere ever. You can go to readings here every single day. We are amazing.”
The poets were all pumped up after that and me and The Angel went home and fused our bodies together again in the act of sex and laughed at The Beast the whole time.
We went to the F-Bomb monthly flash fiction series at The Mercury Café in Denver (2199 California St) hosted that time by Kona Morris. Get in the Car, Helen was the feature and I’d just posted an article on Boulder Poetry Tribe about how he’s The Greatest Living American Poet. Me, GITCH, The Goddess of Faith and band of Boulder poets drove down the long road to Denver together.
“I think everyone in this car is the Greatest Living American Poet!” The Goddess said and touched us with IT’S ALRIGHT BABY! and we believed her.
I read my new article and then GITCH followed and read government shutdown erotica. It was one of his greatest performances and never had the name John Boehner sounded so arousing. The audience was half laughing hysterically and half uncomfortably turned on. It made every other reader that night choose to read their best flash fiction about dicks and vaginas. Grown up adult writers using the filthiest language they know.
“Everyone’s becoming GITCH!” I told GITCH.
“Finally,” he said.
We gave eachother high-fives all the way back home and picked up some Del Taco tacos on the way. It was even still early enough that we could catch the very tail end of the New Basics reading at 303 Vodka.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here earlier,” I told everyone there. “There are so many readings you can possibly go to here. It’s impossible to make everything. I love it!”
They all seemed to understand. And then we left and I dropped everyone off and me and The Angel went home. We wrote out name tags that said “Greatest Living American Sexual Partners” and stuck them on our chests and then had sex. “It’s impossible to Burn me out!” I said.
We went to Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place (2027 13th St) for the popular monthly Bouldering Poets reading hosted by Elyse Brownell and Asalott. As is customary for a Greatest Living American Poet, Get in The Car, Helen was a feature for the second straight night. Also featuring was Matt Clifford, a young rebel poet/accountant who was profiled beautifully earlier that day on Boulder Poetry Tribe by Phil Me Brightly.
Things were askew right away tho. Me and The Goddess were supposed to meet GITCH at the Catacombs to ‘prepare’ with cheap Long Islands, but it took us like a half hour to find downtown parking. The Goddess of Faith had to give me extra IAB! just to get thru it and by the time we got there we had to go straight to Shine. GITCH had a +1 for me, but I didn’t know and accidentally paid the cover. Then when GITCH finally showed up it was time for him to read and he didn’t get a chance to get any IAB! from The Goddess.
GITCH seemed fine and his government shutdown erotica killed again, but as soon as he was done he came back to our table and said, “I think I’m getting The Burn Out.”
“Oh no!” we said and we had to head right over to the Catacombs for those $3.50 Long Islands.
The Goddess rubbed his back and tried to work in her IAB! as best she could.
We got back to Shine in time to see Matt Clifford’s set. He was really going for broke with some fierce punk poetry. He was wearing a suit and screaming over an electric guitar about the bullshit of health insurance and other flaws in the capitalist machine. It was great. Health insurance also makes me very nervous and Cliff had the right wild volume and lack of control to make me pump my fist and go “YA!” and start thinking of ways to dismantle The System and start from scratch. When I looked over at GITCH tho he was gone.
“Where’d he go?” I asked the Goddess.
“He said his IT’S ALRIGHT BABY! had already worn off and he left before I could give him more.”
“Damn, that Burn Out must be some powerful thing.”
GITCH’s exit got to me and when it was time to mingle with other poets at intermission I was off.
“You need to contribute to The Tribe,” I cornered a poet and said, “It’s for your own damn good.”
“I don’t know maybe,” the poet said and then awkwardly walked away.
“Faith,” I said, “What if no one cares about BPT but me?”
“They do care,” she said, “Some are just shy about it.”
“I just want people to think I’m a superstar for doing this.”
“I think you’re a superstar.”
Then she gave me some more IAB! and I was able to participate in the open mic portion. I read a story about the time me and GITCH went to the strip club and saw a unicorn. It went okay.
“Let’s go,” I told Faith.
“Are you sure you don’t want to mingle some more?” she said. “I’ll give you some more IAB!”
“Nah, I should probably drive the cab now.”
Then we went to work and when me and The Angel got back home we did not have sex, cuz we just fell straight to sleep.
I went to the Full Moon Reading in Morrison Alley right behind the Boulder Café. Every full moon a bunch of poets gather in a little gravel driveway in the alley and spontaneously start reading poetry under the moonlight. I summoned The Goddess of Faith but she said couldn’t make it.
“What?!” I said.
“I’ve got some other Guardian Angel thing to do tonight,” she said.
“But we were supposed to go to all seven days of readings together.”
“I know, but seven readings in a week is so much to ask for.”
“I know, I don’t even really want to go to this thing now.”
“You’ll be alright, baby. You’ve only got a couple more readings to go!”
“Okay” I said and went without her.
I wore my beast mask again cuz it seemed kind of werewolf-ish and it helped me howl in support of people. I got up and read a thing about how there’s a voice in my head that always wants me to get a mohawk but it never quite convinces me enough to do it. I followed it with an impassioned but sloppily improvised speech about BPT.
“We have to take over the world or else we’re worthless,” I think I said and I’m pretty sure I failed to mention that it was a website or even that it was called Boulder Poetry Tribe.
I received half-hearted applauds for the whole thing. When I went back into the crowd someone tapped me on the shoulder.
“You suck!” he said.
I turned around and the guy was huge and hairy and smelly.
“The Beast!” I said.
“Yeah,” he said, “Beast mad you make fun of Beast at stupid open mic.”
“Beast think you should leave stupid moonlight reading. No one like you here. Especially pretty Naropa Undergrads.”
“But I want to stay.”
“Boulder Poetry Tribe is stupid. You not have nuff charisma to lead poets. Even if did, poets not want attention. Poets not want work together. Poets want be alone with misery and self-pity like you.”
“Stupid to go to readings every single day. It pointless. You just obsessed and delusional.”
“Get away from me, Beast!” I yelled and ran away.
I was supposed to go to the new monthly Junk.Tank reading at an Amante coffeeshop (2850 Baseline) hosted by veteran local poet Jeffrey Spahr-Summers. I was curious what it was going to be like but I also didn’t want to go. It turned out the Goddess would be on Angel assignment for the whole weekend and I thought the Beast might show up. I called up GITCH to see what to do.
“It’s the Burn Out,” he said. “You have to get as far away as possible from poetry for the next week. If you don’t you could risk permanent damage.”
“But I have to go. I can’t write an article that says I went to poetry readings five out of seven days. It’s not the same!”
GITCH tried to talk me out of it, but I ended up going to Amante anyway.
All the poets were gathered outside on the second floor balcony for the reading. The Beast was there waiting for me.
“It too cold and windy,” Beast said. “All these poets suck. They not make sense. They selfish and unrelatable. Poetry big waste of time.”
I got up and read a thing about how I chew my fingernails when I’m driving and toss them out of the car window. The Beast was booing at me the whole time. I also mentioned BPT.
“Our community deserves media coverage,” I said, but I only half believed myself by then and had no energy to convince anyone.
“You fail,” Beast said when I sat back down. “We should leave. How much work you miss this week for stupid readings? That real money.”
“You’re probably right. I feel like i should stay and mingle tho.”
“All that happen when mingle is you not know what say and they also not know what say and both end up say nothing.”
“Yeah, that has happened a lot of times before.”
And then we didn’t talk to anybody and left and went to work.
The final reading of the week was The Jam before The Slam at The Mercury Café hosted by fully-committed long-time Denver Poet SETH. A bunch of musicians play behind you as you read and you can really get into a groove there. But The Beast was with me the whole day and we both agreed that I’d never written anything good ever before and it would be useless to go.
“No go to readings seven days a week!” The Beast kept chanting, “No go!”
“So true,” I said. “Denver is so far away.”
“No go, no go!”
“I’ll never have to do Boulder Poetry Tribe again. What a relief.”
Then I stayed at home and watched football all day and then went to work.
GITCH called me that night.
“Did you do it? Seven days of readings?”
“No,” I said. “I now understand why a normal town has no poetry readings a week. The world is better without them.”
“That’s just the Burn Out talking.”
“No, it’s The Truth talking.”
“You just need to summon your Angel again.”
“She’s gone. Maybe she’s never coming back. Maybe she never existed.”
“Fuck you man, I’m going to summon your Angel for you then.”
Then suddenly The Goddess of Faith was sitting there in the car with me. The Beast got scared and ran away.
“It’s alright, baby!” Faith said and started kissing my lips.
“Oh Goddess,” I said. “I’m so glad you’re back, but I failed.”
“No you didn’t. You went to six readings this week and that’s still pretty amazing.”
“But it wasn’t seven. It wasn’t The Cycle. It wasn’t perfect.”
“You made the point tho. And the point is you love poetry readings and you love the poets in your community. And you can never be wrong if you do something out of love.”
“Oh you know what else? I’ll always come back to you. And The Beast isn’t going to win your life. I’m going to win your life.”
“And now let’s have sex.”
“You got it!”
And then we had sex right there in the cab. My best parts when into her best parts and we both chanted “Boulder Poetry Tribe forever!”
– jonathan montgomery