The Bastille: Vol 4

Happy to get the news that a short poem I submitted way back in December 2015 was accepted for publication in the next edition of The Bastille. The launch is scheduled for May, so that ought to mean I can find a copy for sale at Shakespeare & Co. bookstore when we pass through Paris this summer. Yay!

Twas the Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night B4 Christmas,
and across this great land
all the moms and the dads
had their heads in the sand

They shook their big asses.
They twisted and wiggled,
and with doe eyes wide open
the kids whispered and giggled.

What was it that happened
to the country that year
that caused the adults
to quiver in fear?

Abroad, wars were raging
and changing each day.
At home in the streets
cops got carried away.

So Mom in her nightie
and Dad in her lap
simply settled right in
for a long winter’s nap.

But they couldn’t sleep well.
Their dreams were absurd.
They paced late at night
without saying a word.

The kids in their beds
heard those old floorboards creaking.
One said to the other,
“Must be Santa Claus sneaking

around in our house
to give us good stuff”
even though they both knew
they had more than enough:

iPods and iPads,
a big house to be living in,
gadgets and gizmos,
enough to be swimming in.

Still the bright kiddos squealed,
“Santa Claus must be here!”
They dashed out of their bedroom
full of mirth & good cheer.

A jolly old elf
is what they expected,
someone blissful and free,
someone whom they respected.

They thought they’d find Santa,
these two cheerful childs.
What they saw were their parents
wearing tire tread smiles

and standing in darkness,
neither looking quite right.
“Merry Christmas,” Mom sighed,
“but it’s late…so…goodnight.”

Money

Here’s a recording at Culture Rapide in Paris from September. The first half is comedian Fred Eyangoh. My thing starts midway through.

There’s a story behind this. A woman had a large sack of leftover bread, which she’d brought from her new job at a boulangerie, and she was passing out the loaves, boules and baguettes to everyone at the bar. She said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if money were a perishable item?” The idea was that everyone would have to give away what they had at the end of each day. I thought it was a sweet and brilliant thought.

Paris

I’ve been in France all summer with about a month spent here in Paris as a “troubadour étrangère.” Playing music, telling stories, reciting poetry. I’m leaving tomorrow for Dublin, and then the next day it’s back to Chicago.

Once I’m home, I’ll post some of the stuff I’ve been presenting here in Paris. It’s been a great time and I’m already looking forward to the next visit.

PWYW

image

Last week, I volunteered at Chicago’s Harold Washington library downtown with a group called Poems While You Wait. These writers work in public spaces creating poetry on demand. The group is paid, and funds support local, independent publisher Rose Metal Press.

Some of my work will be published onto the website here…

http://poemswhileyouwait.tumblr.com/tagged/james-berg

I had a good time, sometimes chatting with the passers-by or just quietly focusing on my work. The experience was somewhat meditative. I’m looking forward to participating again.

A description of the group can be found here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/article/243492