In Lewiston, Maine, I attended the United Nations of Poetry,
a monthly gathering at John Tagliabue’s house,  
where I left my shoes at the door and read poems
and watched puppet shows and kabuki theatre.
From Lewiston, I rode the Greyhound to Augusta to hear Allen Ginsburg rant
and lunched with Denise Levertov in the school dining room. She listened.

In Iowa City, longhaired students packed the steeply-inclined amphitheater
to hear Anselm Hollo and other international poets. In Lexington, Kentucky,
poetry comes out of the engineering building, the art museum, the florist,
the bookstores, doughnut shops, libraries, and bars.   

The poet may distance himself from the poems with explanations
or read in a stylized drone but emotion will seep through.
She may acknowledge friends in the audience or a baby leaving the room.
The tone may be ironic or polished or tongue-in-cheek,

the lines may contain more layers than can be expressed in one reading
or chords more intimate and memorable than life,
bridging the gap between reader and listener,
between public and private.