Hey man, do you wanna come to my poetry reading?

Hey man, do you wanna come to my poetry reading?

You’ll love the venue, it’s got peeling lead paint, rusted pipes, the whole post-industrial vibe. It’s in the basement of an operational kill shelter, you’ll know it when you see it.

I know you’re on the Upper West Side; it's super easy to get to from there — just stay on the M train after the last stop in Queens, wait for it to turn around beyond the station, tuck and roll out to the emergency exit there. Then it’s just a brisk, eastward walk for 5, 10, maybe 25 minutes.

Doors close at 8 PM sharp but it only gets going around 9:30. You should arrive by 7 so you can get a metal folding chair at the front of the stage. By “stage,” I mean a large, thrifted oriental area rug. It really gets the allergies going. It’s very avant-garde, very now.

For their open mic nights, there’s an $8 cover charge. They’re either cash-only or cashless depending on the moon phase. I think we’re in waning crescent, so it should be…cashless? I think? Which is good, you do NOT want to be carrying that much cash in that area.

Between you and me, I would use the bathroom before you leave. There’s only one unisex toilet in the entryway and the sliding bolt doesn't fully match up to the hole drilled into the door.

They normally card people, but only to check your address and then cross-check your Zestimate. They won’t let you in if they think you're a product of generational wealth.

I don’t know if you drink, but there’s a bar in the back. I can forward you the link to their menu — it’s exclusively a QR code but the basement gets no reception, so download it beforehand. Their specialty cocktail is an old fashioned (but instead of bourbon, they’ll sub it with vodka without asking. And instead of bitters, they will just use even more simple syrup.) They do have wine, but only white wine. Vinegar. White wine vinegar.

What am I performing? Doesn’t really matter. I’ll speak in a whisper too quiet for proper venues. The death-shrieks of the dogs upstairs are too horrific to pay attention to me anyway.