Open Mic at Tony’s Bar and Grill

By Tracey Knapp

There’s a man with the rope of a cowbell curled
around his Captain Morgan. He whispers his poems
from a stack of papers, sees your own and nods,
buys you a drink. No conversation needed.
Another person adjusts their blonde wig and quietly
sings Mi mi mi mi meeeee repetitively. You wonder
what song they’ll actually sing—their wig slightly off tilt.
A man cradles his ukulele like a baby. Everyone stares
into their drinks, performing their rehearsal, rubs
the dark worn wood of the bar. You doodle stars
on your pages. Half the people here will only show up
once. No one will tip, and they’ll leave their empty glasses
on the sticky tables, their printouts of songs and poems
on the floor. You were the first to arrive, not thinking
to stop home and put on something more formal
than yoga pants. It doesn’t matter. There is some
common urge to perform whatever thought you have,
to share with these strangers. It’s Sunday night
and raining. Why sit alone silently on your faulty couch
with the endless drone of 60 Minutes on the television,
the single-serving life of pasta and tomato sauce, the rain
driving the ants into your kitchen? Someone taps
the microphone, says HELLO, HELLO. The wig rises
to the stage, sings “I Fall to Pieces” unconvincingly.

Tracey Knapp’s first full-length collection of poems, Mouth, was published by 42
Miles Press. Knapp has received awards and scholarships from La Romita School
of Art in Terni, Italy, the Tin House Writers’ Workshop, and the Dorothy Sargent
Rosenberg Poetry Fund. Her work has appeared in The Cento: A Collection of
Collage Poems, Five Points, and The Hampden Sydney Poetry Review.

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