Wayne invades Passaic


                                                June 21, 1980


 Last night Wayne invaded Passaic.

 I guess I was a little shocked. I don't know Michael Alexander well yet and seeing him in action scared me a little. Maybe it is just the sleepiness of the Passaic poetry community. Rich Quatrone runs his library readings as if it was all high art-- the poetry of innocent citizens ruining the effect with clichéd images and forced rhyme-- Different from the Silk City crowd in their loft over the furniture store in Paterson, where whole walls were covered with manuscripts of unpublished poetry, as the occupants smoked joints before engaging in their art.

 Quatrone would have a heart attack if someone lit up, and I think he suspected something when he smelled the alcohol on Michael's breath-- though Michael innocently held up a Pepsi bottle as if that was all he'd had.

 And up front, elevated and contained by the wooden lecture, Michael preached his odd mixture of poetry, punctuating his lines with curse words and glares at the audience. Those poor fools in suits and evening dresses squirming in their seats, their heads filled with thoughts of the next trustee meeting. I don't suppose any of them have dared too look too closely at the books downstairs, James Joyce's Mollie speech.

 Up here in the children's section one did not swear. Poetry wasn't vulgar or uptight, poetry didn't offend.

 And yet some old lady in the front row seemed offended. I learned later it was Quatrone's mother who didn't like the punk look of Michael from the start, who stared through all his poems with rude indignity. To which Michael started a riot by sticking his tongue out.

 "She stuck her face out at me," he retorted when Quatrone charged at him. "So I stuck my tongue out at her."

 It was near riot. And the sleepy library guard didn't know what to do when Quatrone ordered him to escort Michael out.

 Maybe I was wrong in taking his side. Maybe Michael is no van Gogh, slashing the ear from the face of this travesty. But I went out in protest, though did cringe a little at Michael's screaming of obscenities-- trying to get one more poem in before the door slammed behind us.

New monologue menu

blog menu

New photo/video menu

Main Menu

email to Al Sullivan