November 2, we take off for Santa Fe, missing Day of the Dead by one day and losing a chunk of the plane’s right wing along the way, making for a rocky landing followed by a bumpy one hour shuttle ride from Albuquerque, finally arriving at our destination, a spiritually centered universe unto itself. Everything is connected and we eat breakfast burritos with green chile and eventually converge on Teatro Paraguas, three poets who flew in from NYC and two who traveled from Los Angeles, accompanied by a Santa Fe resident. Confused by time change, even more confused by daylight savings time added into the mix, but time is relative and slows to a crawl under that big New Mexico sky.
November 5th and we shuttle back to the airport, where Jane and I go on to Los Angeles and Russ returns to New York. LA, fragmented and fizzy, lots of sun but not as much sky and we are becoming a travelling troupe as four of us who were in New Mexico perform together at Stories in Echo Park and Beyond Baroque in Venice Beach. Although we missed Day of the Dead rituals in Santa Fe and at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, we wander into an art gallery just down from Beyond Baroque and find ourselves at a celebration, complete with music, food, and traditional art.
Several other local LA poets join us at either or both venues. Great weather for MEDIA guest editor Richard Loranger meets up with us at our first stop and will continue all the way up to Seattle. We are building community as we move forward and I am happy to reunite with old friends, poets and rockers and even some childhood buddies. I was also invited to perform at Library Girl in Santa Monica, a venue I have played before, which always hosts an enthusiastic crowd.
Up to San Francisco, with venues in the city and Berkeley, climbing hills, lost in fog and found again. My last performance on this tour is at the beautiful Berkeley Art House, and I am happy that I will be closing the show. Also, I am happy. Happy about our roving poetry troupe, happy walking down Telegraph Avenue, happy to have spent time with Fish Vargas, founder of Acentos, a Bronx-based collective that guided and directed my poetic life.
Back to my dive hotel on Bush Street one last night – I am ridiculously amused that my windows face a brick wall – an uneventful flight home, normal NYC traffic, and on November 16th I wake in the middle of the night wondering how my hotel room got so nice and why the bed feels so comfortable and after several minutes realize that I am home. I guess the confusing part is that I have been home throughout the entire trip.
Bring the poetry and we are home. Like Jane Ormerod says in what, to me is the signature poem of the trip, “and I belong.”