For a number of years I read my poems at KPV (Kitchen Poets Vault) events, but most of those people were food industry writers.
The first time I shared a stage with the "Twin Cities Elite" it was at some Valentines Love Fest, down at Keiran's Pub.
The Loft and City Pages sponsored the event, and I was thrilled to participate because my friend Dara Syrkin was the emcee.
Each writer was told to take no more than 5 minutes.
Many took 10.
Being that it was my debut, I decided to just do one poem, crush it, and then finish with "I'm Danny Klecko...Good Night."
I went 4th out of 9 presenters, so the crowd had some booze in them by this time....that always helps.
"Hello, I'm Danny Klecko, I'm reading one poem.....it's called Monkey."
Tattoo's and bruises - neither one ever comes for free
You'll never meet the one who owns you - so why not take a knee
Overtime can kill some time - when you lack family
But all this could be forgotten - if your monkey would only smile at me
The sun is always shining - when I think about my past
Baking with the Poles & Czechs - a predetermined cast
If you wanted a promotion - you just simply had to last
But why on earth would anyone ever wish for that
Many-Many years ago - I never saw a bed
I always worked a double shift - I made gas station bread
You never dared break from the line - unless someone dropped dead
And, that didn't really matter - they just get pushed against the wall
Sitting in your idiot gauntlet - I didn't think to repent
Another possibility - opportunity heaven sent
Passing through your hometown - I was rattled by a bum
He set his sights on my opera glasses - and my Tyco drum
Jesus hanging from a cross - he turns and looks at me
Klecko get on over here - and take me off this tree
I remind him of salvation concept - while he screams blasphemy
But all this would be remembered......
If your monkey would only smile at me
"I'm Danny Klecko....Good Night."
There was a lot of people there that evening, and when I finished, I remember all of them were smiling in unison.
But I couldn't tell if they really liked me, or my poem....or if I simply scared them.
When the event was over, I went and sat a table with Finley and two other esteemed poets...Tim Nolan and James Rodgers.
These 3 men have been making the scene for years, so I just sat quietly and listened.
Like a crusty sponge, I soaked up everything they discussed.
a little bit later, when the group started running a postmortem, they finally came to my poem.
This is Finley talking now..........
"You did a nice job Klecko, you engaged the audience, people liked you...that's half the battle, I mean why would anybody want to like a poet?"
The 3 tribal leaders roared at that, and then Finley continued.....
"Some people write poems because they like to use interesting words. They smash them up, put them into some unusual order, but when all is said and done....you don't know what they were talking about. What was your poem about?"
I wasn't sure how to answer, I wasn't sure I knew, all I did know was I felt so Kerouac delivering it.
"When a poet just uses words to be expressive, they are selling themselves short, its like all they want to do is roll in their emotional paint. Don't be like that. Stand up and be direct. Write about things that you love. If you learn how to clearly communicate what you love, and why you love....you will become a great poet."