Here, drink this powdered backbone; it’s all I have to give

Here, drink this powdered backbone; it’s all I have to give

More than once I judged friends who are parents
for being, to the best of my knowledge, willfully lame.
Zombie drones bandaged in sweat shirts and sweat pants, but no apparent sweat.
Lethargy, apathy, anomie–insert parents here–save for
the busy pursuit of comforts like
infinite TV, real estate, a four door sport sedan,
vacations, lots of groceries, and…sweats,
with haircuts crowning resignation or imitation,
with purchased asymmetry and poofy bang formations.
But, the teeter totter now has tipped, and
all my judgments dissolve into the thick brine of first-pain experience
Addition of one to my family added vantage by which I see
in the pessimistic checked out zombie stares of parents
a triumph
against odds waiting to crumble anyone who lets up for an instant.
Abrupt detour to every selfish moment:
booby trapped gauntlet of scheduling,
puzzle of a home that doesn’t stay–
no peace in a house of ever scattered pieces
as your children–desperate for knowledge and experience
dismantle and reallocate every (micro and macro) crumb, particle,
groveling hands to know and be
the something their DNA tells them to expand into
without concern for the ones who got them here,
gave them this, and may or may not get
up enough energy to teach higher hierarchical needs
beyond survival. In the crows feet
of parents’ unkept faces
I see a strength that could break at the point of impact
between the overstretched now and whatever comes next,
but won’t,
because it can’t, because the kids are depending on you,
and the powdered backbone you feed them when you’re out of food.
I see people
who lay it all down, all day
to get few to no thanks or hours of sleep
after the kids doze/before the kids wake.
It’s not sustainable, but has to be,
has always been, the only way we’ve gotten here,
rising on the sore backs of those who bore us in to the now.
It’s no wonder I judged my friends who were parents;
no one’s parent ever got enough sleep
or time or space to articulate what it’s like for them.
No one will ever believe me either
as I can’t seem to wrap my tired arms around much of anything
but the magnetic, gravitational light
radiating from the eyes of my child.

Those Who Launched The End Of All War

Those Who Launched The End Of All War

Those Who Launched The End of All War
-for Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, founders of Wikipedia.

A time line pamphlet accordion unfolds
the entire history of human civilization–
all our story in context. Beautiful print.
Bound truth. Liberty in hand. Men want it
destroyed. It gives children a chance.

We finished painting the nursery today.
Took nine months. No baby seals or cumulus
skies, swallows or safari animals, arbors or arks.
A time line. All of it, from door hinge to handle,
from hardwood flooring to textured plaster ceiling,
four walls depicting the recorded history of humanity:
exploration, invention, myth making, agriculture, technology.
It is done. Now only to teach the child to read before grandparents
attempt to blind and shutter out information that surrounds
save the twelve by seven inch segment they will to accept.

A fifty-foot flat bed diesel parks
on the corner of State and North U.
Two forty-foot telescopic masts
elevate at its ends. A banner is raised,
200 square feet taut between uprights.
A time line. The history of humanity
in plain sight. The bullhorn preacher
out front of the pharmacy is first to drop
his jaw. It rains astonishment and silence.
Krishna chanters across the divide
drum no more, but rise. Sidewalks
and lawns superimpose with mandibles
and discarded misinformation.
All bodies shape to ear and eye.
Heartbeats syncopate. Language
marked with only questions met
by epiphany. Air, the taste of truth
without argument. From here,
there is only we.

in my hands (handbreadth)

in my hands (handbreadth)

He wakes from slumber
his bed only feet from mine,
and cries, whimpers, a monkey
or puppy sound. If I do
not go to him he will full on cry
out to communicate displeasure.
I pick him up and he quiets.
In my hands he calms,
rests, smiles—in my hands.
One day he will hate me,
loath the sight, fear these hands,
shame them, embarrassed at their limits,
their only one finitude.
But for now he is happiest,
happy only, in my hands.

Shirley Temple Drinks

Shirley Temple Drinks

My life is a bowl of cherries
atop a farmer’s family
tablecloth, at an orchard
in Michigan, first grown
in Washington, packed
in plastic, foam, foil,
and wood, gasoline,
spark plug combustion engine
exhaust pipe emitting
carbon monoxide and
carcinogen smoke.
Mmm. Pure Michigan.
Delicious. All natural.
Fresh. Septic refuse.
Certified organic without
mentioning how I am
a petroleum product:
the pipe, the pipeline
the cancer hole in lung,
in ozone, in your family’s empty
armchair built by your forefathers’
hands. The pacific coast, the great
lake shore, the wild rushing pollutant,
bacterial microbe, protozoa, faucet
piping to households, to farmyards,
like this one in Michigan. I am
the bowl and its cherries, the freckled red-
headed little girl, her checkered dress―I am
in her hands―Shirley Temple drinking
a “Shirley Temple.” All smiles and lips stained
pink cherry mustache unaware, her early
onset diabetes, the insulin syringe. I am
delicious, our unsated appetite for
everything out of season, all of it
right now, without asking
at whose expense.

A Friend Found Today

A Friend Found Today

–for the great comedian Stephen F. on his birthday

The good old days depend
on how old you are and
where the endorphins
are stored in your memory bank.
Kenny Loggins, Phil Collins,
Ghost Busters, and the movie Rad—
details scribes might do without,
but you remember, and surprised,
all the skin creases and nodding
his face affirms—you are not the only one,
which takes both of you in and out-
side yourselves, on a tour
made up of your own
milestones, Rolling Stones, and Flintstones
somehow breaking through the clouds
of stress, strain, and complaint
to instead create—make up something
all together new, to approach the risk,
voice your invitation
to the game—volleying comedy,
to shoot so much breeze
that all goes clean, mind swept,
for a sea of thought to be explored
by open sail or submarine. Most
of those you’ve loved and laughed
with are gone—out of sight, not mind.
But you’ve found a friend today
who mentions many good old days
the same as those you can replay,
and find in him a truth:
to have a friend
who enjoys
the experience of any moment
the same as you do,
makes life—all of it—
worth remembering.

2015 Tour

2015 Tour

Hello friends. I am at it again this year with more exciting poetry performance encounters across the continent.

January (Sundays) – Ann Arbor – Silvio’s – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam
February – Ann Arbor – Pioneer High School – Creative Writing Workshops – room C309
February 15 – Detroit – Hopcat Bar / Huma Room – Drunken Retort w/ Marcel Fable Price
February 16 – Grand Rapids – Stella’s – Drunken Retort w/ Shawn Michael Moore
February 17 – Kalamazoo – The Mix / Grind – Put Up or Shut Up w/ Mitch Burns and Marcel Fable Price
April 18 – Ann Arbor – Grand Slam Poetry Finals w/ Jamaal May
April 27-30 – Boca Raton, FL – TBD
June 5 – Detroit – Manila Bay Café 8pm.
August 1 – Ann Arbor – Literati Book Store – Ann Arbor Poetry Slamiversary Celebration w/John Buckley & Karrie Waarala
August 11-15 – Oakland, CA – The National Poetry Slam
September – Ann Arbor – The Ark
October – Ann Arbor – The Ark
October – Ann Arbor – Espresso Royale – with Danez Smith & Austin Gorsuch
October – Ann Arbor – Skazat – Sweetwater’s – with Tarfia Faizullah & Marlin Jenkins
November 12 – Lansing – Michigan State University
November 15 – Ann Arbor – Espresso Royale – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam with Safia Elhillo

February 23 – Montague, MI – The Book Nook – White Lake Arts Council Lecture Series

Garret Potter featured on Nate Allen’s Kickstarter Mixtape

Garret Potter featured on Nate Allen’s Kickstarter Mixtape

Minutes before midnight, my deadline to decide between a full year farm internship or doing a national performance tour, I happened to run into my friend Nate. He was working on a presentation for his class and updating a band bio/press release for his new folk/punk album. I was painfully anxious and indecisive. Nate asked why, then responded with more than enough encouragement, that I decided to publish my first book and go on tour.
After two years, more than 25,000 miles toured, over 500 performances given, more than 700 books sold, I realize now how impactful Nate is–a friend with encouragement, kindness, and generosity. Along that first full tour, several of my shows came together by opening up for Nate and the band Destroy Nate Allen. From Nebraska, to New York, to North Carolina, Nate and Tessa demonstrated honoring generosity.
Today, Nate sent me a message saying that he wrote a blog about me on his website ( ) as part of his new album release campaign. With thirty of Nate’s recording artist friends, I contributed a poem or song to his mixtape. Nate says everyone can get a copy for a dollar. My track itself normally costs a dollar. Nate’s crazy. He loves playing music for people, mostly, I imagine, to make people smile and feel better about what’s possible. I welcome you to read what he said about me and learn more about what he loves. Thank you. Thanks Nate.

2014 Tour Stops

2014 Tour Stops

January 4 – 6pm – Jackson, MI – The Book Exchange w/ Jessica Campbell & Caleb Lange
January 5 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – Silvio’s – w/ Sabrina Cook
January 12 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – Silvio’s – w/ Allie Reynolds
January 19 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – Silvio’s – w/ Brother Gabe (Gabriel Green)
January 26 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – Silvio’s – w/ Jozer Guerrero
February 1 – 8pm – Detroit – Trinosophes – 2 Wins & You’re In w/ Ethan Rivera and Brian Sullivan Jr.
February 16 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – Silvio’s
March 4-9 – Victoria, British Columbia – The Victoria Spoken Word Festival:
March 5 – 8pm – Victoria – Intrepid Theater – w/ RC Weslowski, Steve Currie, Cathy Petch, Brendan Flaherty, and more
March 6 – 8pm – Victoria – Metro Theater – w/ Tim Gosley (Fragle Rock, Sesame St. Canada), & festival ensemble
March 7 – 8pm – Victoria – Metro Theater – w/ Johnny Mcrae, Shayne Avec I Grec, Sabrina Benaim, & Chimwemwe Undi
March 8 – 8pm – Victoria – Metro Theater – w/ Barbara Adler, Sebastian Wen, Audrey-Lane, and more
March 9 – 7pm – Vancouver, B.C. – BedRocc Poetry Slam at Prophouse – w/ Moe Clark and Scruffmouth Scribe
March 16 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam at Silvio’s – w/ YOU!
March 18 – 7pm – Ann Arbor – Skazat! Poetry Series at Sweet Water’s Coffee – w/ Lizzie Hutton
March 23 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam Wildcard Slam #1 at Silvio’s – w/ Ethereal & Rachel
March 30 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam Wildcard Slam #2 at Silvio’s – w/ Inam Kang
April 6 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam Anything Goes Slam at Silvio’s – w/ Fiona Chamness
April 12 – 7pm – Ann Arbor – The Neutral Zone / B Side – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam City Finals w/ Marc Smith
April 15 – 7pm – Ann Arbor – Skazat! Poetry Series at Sweet Water’s Coffee – w/ Lindsay Stone
April 26 – 11am – Chelsea, MI – 2014 Midwest Literary Walk – w/ Diane Seuss, Harry Dolan, and Mona Jean Cedars
April 27 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam – w/ Stephen Meads, Chris Leja, and Mark L. Anderson
May 4 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam w/ Simon Mermelstein and Sarah Melendez
May 9 – 6pm – Ypsilanti, MI – Feature Performance for Washtenaw International High School’s Grand Slam
May 11 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam – w/ Brother Gabe and Todd Askew
May 12 – 9pm – Ann Arbor – Heavenly Chain Mixup @ The 8 Ball w/ Luis Anderson, Fiona Chamness, and Simon Mermelstein.
May 18 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam – w/ Tariq Luthun and Brigitte Demelo
May 25 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam – w/ Lindsay Stone and Luis Anderson
June 1 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam – w/ Simon Mermelstein and Alex Duncan
June 8 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam –
June 14 – Detroit, MI – Rustbelt Midwest Regional Poetry Slam w/ Phil Kaye, Sam Sax, and Hieu at 1515 Broadway
June 20 – 9pm – Ann Arbor – Ann Arbor Book Festival – @ Babo Grocery – w/ Scott Beal & Brother Gabe
June 22 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam – w/ Azira, Brigitte, and Alex Duncan
June 29 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam –
July 6 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam –
July 13 – 6:30pm – Ann Arbor – Zen Buddhist Temple – Empty Hands music project w/ Nimo, Jill Halpern, and more.
July 20 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam –
July 27 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam –
August 3 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam –
August 4-9 – Oakland, CA – The National Poetry Slam – w/ McKendy Fils Aime, Hieu Nguyen, Toaster, Jeremiah The Fluent One
August 10 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam –
August 17 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam –
August 24 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam –
August 31 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam –
September 6 – Ann Arbor – Homegrown Festival w/ local bands and song writers
September 7 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam – w/ Ethan Rivera
September 12 – 7:30pm – Ann Arbor – Silvio’s Pizza w/ Michael Joseph and Lindsay Stone
September 14 – 8pm – Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam – w/ Carrie Beattie

Diapers. + Talking to plants.

Diapers. + Talking to plants.


The diapers. I change.

I change diapers.
I change the children’s diapers.

I lift them onto a cushioned table designed for said purpose,
adorned with blue disposable gloves,
and remove any clothing in the way,
until behold! Alas:
the Velcro-sealed, padded, body trash bag
known as a diaper.

I peel it back—each one a surprise
depending on limitless combined factors of diet, digestion, biology, and chemistry:
like the magenta remains following beet day,
or aqua-marine after eating artificially colored birthday cake frosting—
each unique in consistency, color, and stench.

My job, as a preschool teacher,
is to wipe the
soil, we shall say,
off and out of the still forming unmentionables
of these two and three year old humans
while holding my breath for as long as I can
to hurriedly deposit the wraiths like a ghost buster
deep into the odor-sealed storage containment diaper pail,
then breathe a half-fresh, half-
lingering breath of
what I hope is mostly air,
distracting my gag reflexes from launching the contents in my stomach.

How both the child and I come out of this clean
is no mere success,
but a small miracle.

But, even there on the changing table,
every moment is a teaching opportunity,
so I inform the child of how poop is made,
saying: “The good food goes in up top
and the bad stuff comes out the bottom—
your bottom that is my friend.”

And they respond with infectious giggles
and clever inquiries like,
“Can I touch it?”
To which I reply,
“I, the Diaper Swiper, find germs might hurt you who peruse your gooey poo,
so no, you cannot touch it!”
To which they respond,
“You silly Midder Garret.”

And I know,
multiple times per day I perpetuate this;
I feed them.
I supply these fecal factories the stuff they need
to keep producing more.

And yet how could I not?
How could I help myself
with each curly or straight lock of their crowns,
each small-toothed round dimple-cheeked smile,
each mirror-image daybreak flashlight eye gleam?
How could I resist perpetuating their changes
from bottles to blocks to balls to ballet
to bikes and beyond?

Could I forget that not long ago
I was helpless, vulnerable,
dependent on some older, wiser, more-able being
I, with the spark of life
without the knowledge of how to keep fire going.

Could I forget each maternal or paternal sacrifice
or the faces of each of the people I peed on?
The fire of me tended with care so long,
how could I not lend mine to fuel theirs?

When I signed up for this job,
I knew my hands would serve their turn at the changing table,
but never could have known what would happen there.

For it was there where countless children forgot I was an employee,
forget my name,
and called me “Dad.”

It was there where Weston told me that he loved me more
than a monster truck shark,
giving me the highest possible compliment in the known toddler universe,
ushering me to tears,
not only from an olfactory response to the death in his diaper,
but also from cardiac growing-pains—
my heart enlarging.

When I accepted this position
I agreed to feed and nurture,
teach and train,
and yes, to change their diapers,

but there were no notices
warning how
these new to life half-lings,
these my new friends,
would so greatly
be changing

How you move

You can tell a Birch tree
by the peeling white,
scroll-forming pages of its bark,
the clothes it wears to cover up its truth,
like I wore as an elementary student
dressed in construction paper and staples
for the school play.

You can tell a Magnolia
by its giant white,
purple-lined blossoms,
the way your irises take them in with tired but desperate hands,
the way tears come at the dawn of hope
after Winter’s harsh bone gray.

You can tell a Blueberry
by its flowering white
The way they hang
like silken slips beneath the hip, hip-shaped skirts
of ladies in the fifties,
briefly adorned in Spring before disrobed
to bear their ripened fruit,
providing relief to thirsty tongues
of birds,
or bears,
or boys.

You can tell an Apple
by the crisp white
flesh within its star seeded pomes
the way its arms hold such peel-wrapped,
juice-packed fruits,
an offering for bugs
and free school lunch kids,
and kings.

But if you tell any of these plants
(with speech)
I don’t think they’ll understand.

Your words
will only prompt,
“hffuhhhh, ahhhhhh,”

fresh breaths of air:
their inhalation,
your carbon dioxide exhaled.

Your words, to them,
are miracle grow, 1-up, health-boost respirators
supplying the very essence of warm nourishment.

And I can tell that you
already know this.

But I’ll tell you again to remind,
that sometimes it’s not about the words that you say

but the way you move
the ones you tell.

2013 Tour

2013 Tour

I am glad to announce that HIDE AND SEEK: A Poet’s Memoir is here! for the second time! The first edition sold out!  And, the second is finding new homes going quick!
While that happens, I am creating, performing, and conducting workshops all over the US and North America.

Here are the first few months of where I have been and where I would like to go:

January 3 – 6:30pm – Newaygo, MI – The River Stop Cafe
January 4 – 9pm – Detroit, MI – The Manila Bay Cafe w/ Deonte Osayende and LaShaun Phoenix Kotaran
January 5 – 6pm – Tipton, MI – The Collapse House w/ Jon Felton, The Milky Eyed Menders, and The Illogical Spoon
January 7 – 4pm – Fremont, MI – Fremont Middle School ASP
January 8 – 9am – Newaygo, MI – Newaygo High School
January 8 – 12pm – Fremont, MI – Fremont Christian Middle School
January 19 – 8pm – Portland, OR – The Back Door Theater w/ Novosti and DLUXTL
January 24 – 6pm – Olympia, WA – The Flaming Eggplant – 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW – w/ Coyote Scofflaw (open mic) January 27 – 8pm – Portland, OR – Poetry Slam at Backspace cafe w/ Mike McGee and Doc Luben
January 28 – 8:30pm – Bellingham, WA – Poetry Night – The Amadeus Project – 1209 Cornwall Ave
January 29 – 7pm – Seattle, WA – Seattle Poetry Slam – w/ Amber Flame and Josh Coles – Re-bar 1114 Howell St.
February 1 – 8pm – Portland, OR – The Waypost w/ Jen Deale, John Chap, and Jon Ransom
February 2 – 9:40pm – St. Johns (Portland), OR – St. Johns Booksellers w/ Justin, Bill, and Matt Price and more
February 7 – 3:30pm – Omaha, NE – Westside Highschool – LTAB poetry group February 7 – 9pm – Omaha, NE – Loui’s February 8 – 7pm – Omaha, NE – Greengo Coffee and Deli – w/ D.C. Lutz, Paul Clark, Rene Harper, and Sara Wehbe February 12 – 6:00pm – Portland, OR – River’s Edge Hotel – (Gathering of Life Coaches)
February 14 – 7pm – Vancouver, WA – Cover to Cover Books – w/Amy Temple Harper, Pecos B Jett, and Mike G.
February 24 – 8pm – Portland, OR – The Portland Poetry Slam Sem-finals!!! – with Marty McConnell and Melissa Rose.
February 28 – 7pm – Corvallis, OR – Poetics Corvallis – Old World Deli, 341 Southwest 2nd Street
March 1 – 6pm – Portland, OR – 4335 NE Sumner St. – w/ Jonathan Brinkley and Betsy LeVine
March 9 – 8pm – Portland, OR – The Poetree House – w/ Joshua Grace, Todd Fadel, Seth Martin, Jesse Gardner, and Nolan Frank
March 10 – 8pm – Portlanld, OR – The Portland Poetry Slam @ Backspace Cafe w/ Samantha Peterson, Beau Williams, and Will Gibson
March 11- 8pm – Portland, OR – The White Eagle McMenamin’s Pub – w/ Jolliff and Bubble Cats
March 12 – 7pm – Seattle, WA – The Fremont Abbey – The Seattle Round w/ The Maldives, Erin Rae, Star Anna, and Savy
March 14 – 6:30pm – Portland, OR – Concordia University – The George R. White Library 2800 NE Liberty Street – w/ Djinn Maury
March 15 – 7pm – Lake Oswego, OR – New Thought Center for Spiritual Living – w/ Laura Ivancie
March – Salt Lake City, UT – Greenhouse Effect – w/ Jessie Parent, Nick Shifrar, and Ben Barker.
April – Chelsea, MI – The Literary Walk – Back To the Roots
May 2 – Newaygo, MI – The River Stop Café – w/ Sandra Barnard, Jerry Arlen, and more.
May 14 – Grand Rapids, MI – The BOB – Dr. Grin’s Comedy Club – The Message Poetry Slam – w/ Shewrites, Fable, & Rachel Gleason
May 23 – Newaygo, MI – The River Stop Café – w/ Sandra Bernard, Marqueta Bernard, and more.
June 17/18 – Montague, MI – The Book Knook – w/ pianist Bryan Uecker
June 25 – Grand Rapids, MI – The BOB – Dr. Grin’s Comedy Club – The Message Poetry Slam
October 2 – Spokane, WA – The Individual World Poetry Slam – last chance qualifier
October 8, 2013 – Portland, OR – Round 1 – Portland Abbey Arts w/ Novosti, Caroline Belk, Jonah Sissoyev, and Kali Hoesch
December 6, 2013 – Detroit, MI – Manila Bay Café

If you don’t see YOUR TOWN and would like to, just ask:
Thank you.  See you soon!


Want to see where I went in 2012?

June 22, 2012 – 7pm – Portland, OR – Three Friends Coffee House
June 23 – 1:00 PM & 2:30 PM – Portland, OR – AJ Java Coffee
June 23 – 8:30pm – Portland, OR – 628 NE Roselawn
June 25 – 7pm – Salt Lake City, UT – Salt City Slam, Moe’s
June 26 – 8:30pm – Boulder, CO – 3460 Colorado Ave, Apt B4
June 30 – 9pm – Omaha, NE – Barley Street Tavern
July 1, 2012 – 8pm – Bellevue, NE – 14215 S. 21st. Street
July 4-7 – Multiple – Bushnell, IL – Cornerstone Music Festival
July 8 – Multiple – Plainfield, IN – The Journey – 620 S. Carr – 9am, 11am, and 7:30pm).
July 10 – 9pm – Springfield, OH – Radical Roots – 3343 West Jackson Rd
July 11 – 10pm – Chicago, IL – Heartland Cafe
July 12 – 8pm – Madison, WI – Erin Snug Irish Pub
July 13 – 12:30pm – Jackson, MI – Cuppa Coffee
July 13 – 8pm – Jackson, Michigan – The Fourth Wall (Poetry Slam)
July 14 – Rest Day (off day) – Chelsea, MI – Back To The Roots
July 15 – 11am – Fowlerville, MI – Fowlerville Freedom Center
July 16 – Adventure day – Detroit, Michigan
July 17 – 9PM – Pittsburgh, PA – Slam of Steel at the Shadow Lounge 5972 Baum Boulevard
July 18 – Birth-day-off – Lansing, MI – (shared at Soup Spoon Cafe – Thanks for the meal and treats!)
July 20 – 10pm – Philadelphia, PA – Station Bar w/ Destroy Nate Allen and Rob, Lately.
July 23 – 8pm – Philadelphia, PA – The Fire
July 23 – 9pm – Philadelphia, PA – Fergie’s Pub
July 24 – 7pm – Philadelphia, PA – Circle Cell
July 25 – 9:30pm – Manhattan, NY – The Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe
July 26 – 7:30pm – Philadelphia, PA – Bring Your Words
July 27 – 10pm – Manhattan, NY – The Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe
July 30 – 8pm – East Avon, NY – The Blue Brick – w/ Destroy Nate Allen and Treasury
August 1, 2012 – 7:30pm – East Straudsburg, PA – Mothership 2.0 House – w/Destroy Nate Allen and Rob Lately
August 2 – 7pm – Philadelphia, PA – Pidgeon Presents ReSourceArts – Crane Arts Old School
August 2 – 9pm – Philadelphia, PA – Jus’ Words open mic 1310 N. Broad St.
August 8-11 – Multiple – Charlotte, NC – The National Poetry Slam
August 11 – 4pm – Charlotte, NC – Jesus Radicals Conf.
August 12 – 9pm – Asheville, NC – Patton and Haywood Triangle
August 13 – 7pm – Nashville, TN 1007 Stainback Ave. w/Rheanna Downey, Jasmine Commerce, and Beards.
August 15 – 7pm – Rome, GA – 24 Elmwood St. NE
August 23 – 8pm – New Orleans, LA – JuJu Bag Cafe
August 26 – 6 pm, Austin, TX – Progress Coffee w/ Peter Nevland, Keith Ruckus, and Danny Strack
August 28 – 8pm – Austin Poetry Slam w/ Mike McGee and Kevin Burke
August 30 – 7-9:30pm – Addison, TX – Groove Thursdays at Azure
August 31 – 12:45pm – Waxahachie, TX – SAGU Ellis Building – Poetry Class
September 1, 2012 – 8PM – Little Rock, AR – 618 N. Martin St.
September 12 – 7PM – Little Rock, AR – Arkansas Arts Center – Rock City Slam – w/ Houston Hughes:
September 14 – 9PM – Conway, AR – University of Central Arkansas – Baridon Hall
September 17 – 8PM – Springfield, MO – Michael’s Place – 2230 N. Fremont Ave Apt. A
September 20 – 7 PM – Springfield, MO – MO Poetry Slam @ Nathan P. Murphy’s with GuysLikeUs, Michelle Nimmo, Seth White, and Heidi Therrien.
September 22 – 8 PM – Springfield, MO – Sandstrom Place – 2226 N. Fremont
September 26 – 9:30PM – Kansas City, MO – Uptown Arts Bar – 3611 Broadway Blvd. w/ Theory & Angela Roulette
October 1, 2012 – 9pm – Omaha, NE – PROVOKE Poetry at The PS Collective 6056 Maple St. w/ Jack Hubbard
October 4 – 7pm – Fayetteville, AR – The individual World Poetry Slam – Teatro Scarpino – 329 N. West Ave
October 5 – 9pm – Fayetteville, AR – The individual World Poetry Slam – Matt Miller Studio – 21 W. Mountain St. Suite 26
October 7 – 7pm – Kansas City, MO – Club 7 Hundred  – 700 Southwest Blvd. w/ Nightlife Jones & Angela Roulette
October 8 – 7pm – Lincoln, NE – Crescent Moon Coffee – 140 N. 8th St. #10 Lower Level w/ David Huffman & Rex Walton
October 12 – 7pm – Emporia, KS – 630 Wilson St. – w/ Joe Foster & more.
October 14 – 8:30pm – Boulder, CO – 4905 Ricara Drive, (80303) – w/ Jessica Rose Sanders and more
October 16 – 8pm – Ogden, UT – The Slam at Grounds For Coffee – 111 25th Street, Ogden, Utah 84401
October 25 – 8pm – Portland, OR – The Broetry Finale at The Pointy House – w/Greg Girding and Chris Leja
October 28 – 9am – Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church – SE 55th and Belmont
October 28 – 8pm – Portland, OR – The Portland Poetry Slam – Backspace Cafe – w/ Mark Anderson
November 1, 2012 – 10am – Portland, OR – Warner Pacific College – chapel
November 7 – 8pm – Portland, OR – Townshend’s Alberta Street Tea House – w/ Kelli Schaefer
November 9 – Bend, OR – 7pm – Don’s Place – 1761 Troon Avenue
November 10 – 8pm – Eugene, OR – Eugene Poetry Slam @ Tsunami Books w/ Joaquin Zihuatanejo, Natasha Carrizosa, and Robyn Bateman.
November 11 – 7pm – Bend, OR – The Shepherd and The Knucklehead at Platypus Pub.
November 12 – 7pm – Portland, OR – The Shepherd and The Knucklehead at Caldera Pub
November 15 – 6:30pm – Portland, OR – Get Loud Poetry Slam 2012 – Benson Polytechnic High School
November  26 – 7pm – Sellwood (Portland), OR – Corkscrew Wine Bar – w/ Jon Ransom
November 27 – 7pm – Vancouver, WA – Barnes & Noble – w/ David Axelrod
November 30 – 1pm – Silverton, OR – Unofficial performance for the staff of CRC
December 3, 2012 – 7pm – Portland, OR – Three Friends Coffee House w/ Josh Hoke and Alexa Wildish
December 7 – 7pm – Olympia, WA – Last Word Books – Poetry Slam w/ Sierra Demulder
December 19 – 7pm – Portland, OR – The Back Door Theater w/ Novosti, Monica Storss, and Melissa Rose
December 27, 2012 – 9pm – Evanston (Chicago), IL – The Patch House – Reba Place

The Seattle Round

The Seattle Round

Last night, I was given the chance to perform at The Fremont Abbey of The Arts in Seattle, for the 94th Seattle Round. The space is an excellent, old chapel style structure with great acoustics. The vibe was warm, inviting, and anticipatory. Nathan Marion invited me to share spoken word poetry alongside musical guests The Maldives, Erin Rae, and Star Anna, as well as a painter named Savy.

He encouraged us to collaborate, improvise, and accompany each other–to embrace the occasion and create an experience that could not be done otherwise. I told him that I typically perform solo, and that my poetry varies in time-sequence and form–I have a conversation with the audience. He still encouraged me to collaborate.

I didn’t realize it ahead of time, but I had met and performed with Erin in Nashville, Tennessee on tour last Summer. She opened the night up with gentle, beautiful guitar and vocals.

Next, The Maldives came into play. Only two months ago, I went to Bellingham, WA to perform. While there, I attended my friend Sara’s show, where she happened to be opening up for The Maldives. I didn’t know we would perform together soon after. Last night, they bantered with the crowd and played excellent guitar, accordion, and vocal songs. I really enjoyed their performance.

Third, Star Anna played her soul out on her guitar and microphone.

And finally, I came in with a poem. We did this rotation five times. On the final round, rather than close with a comedic poem solo, I invited the Maldives to play again the music of their final song that shared the feel of “Not Yours, Truly,” a serious poem I tell from the perspective of a giraffe. It went beautifully, wonderfully–memorable. It happened. We shared in an experience that was unique and special to that space and that night.

When all was said and done, I was fed, compensated, supported, encouraged, and moved. I was sober and high off of the experience for hours into the night.

I am grateful.

A photographer and cinematographer named Eratosthenes Fackenthall shot the entire night. If and when video becomes available, I will post it for you. :-)

A boat for my heart

A boat for my heart

After four summer months of poetry tour adventures all over the US, I returned to Portland, Oregon.  And the rain and clouds were there, ready to greet me with their cold, wet immersion and embrace, more than I had expected or welcomed.  At the same time, hurricane winds, rain, and flooding hit New England–these were called Sandy.  Feeling, I wrote.  And feeling I came upon an idea for relief …our ears, eyes, and minds open. our hearts beat, held in palms, gently. a boat approaches, to carry us through the storm… Kelli Schaefer offered to join me in a show named…

A boat for my heart

I built a boat for my heart,
and tried to send it to myself in the mail,
but the post office closed
when the storms came
and I had to carry it in my palms—
my heart
my vulnerable.

God build a boat for my heart,
entrusted men to bring it to me,
in due time,
but the men got all the directions mixed up and varied–
confused assembly, confusing themselves;
I only got pieces
that might make a boat,
that might be from God,
but might not.

I built a boat for your heart,
but you kept it inside,
wouldn’t come let it out, at the dock,
didn’t trust,
wouldn’t chance;
so I rowed it alone,
carrying nothing but my solitude,
me and the oars, o’er and o’er.

But, my heart build a boat for itself
out of all the charred remains,
found them strewn about my sensory memory,
plucked them out from its sides and feet
and put them together to make new moments.
In the new moments,
my heart remembers how it never was but ought to have been.
It is a beautiful heart-boat
floating, sailing on the seas.
The wave-waters shimmer,
the moon is out,
it is rocking me to sleep.

Copyright 2012, Garret W. Potter, Portland, OR.

The individual World Poetry Slam, 2012, in Fayetteville, AR October 3-6

The individual World Poetry Slam, 2012, in Fayetteville, AR October 3-6

Hello friends.

I am headed South to Fayetteville, AR tonight.
Tomorrow begins day one of competition for the individual World Poetry Slam.

While touring in Arkansas in September, I qualified to compete in the tournament.
Now, the time is at hand.  Seventy-two talented poets from all over the world will convene.
Each day there are competition rounds, seminars, work shops, and open mics.
The top twelve poets will advance to the finals on Saturday.
I have been working steadily in preparation and I am excited to share the experience.
Thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers, support, and encouragement.
So many of you are with me in this season, out on the road–you are vital, keeping me going and sharing each day.

With anticipation, appreciation, and love,




Thanks to Kirk at ArtSpeak Design (,
a new video for the poem Reconciling My Apartment Complex is alive online now!
Garret Potter – Reconciling My Apartment Complex
I had a great time working with Kirk in his space in St. Louis, MO.
We were roommates in college until he traded up (roommates) for his wife.
We hadn’t seen one another in about six years.  I am grateful for his friendship.
This morning over breakfast we discussed how special, valuable, and important friendships are (and old friendships especially).

Poetry, Slam, Competition, Winning

Poetry, Slam, Competition, Winning

Hello Friends.

As a preschool teacher, I did not encourage competition.  Throughout my life and in viewing the lives of others (professional athletes, cyclists, poets, authors, models, artists, parents, kids, lovers), I have seen that nothing is ever enough.  Winning is the only thing we want.  But when we get it, it still is not “enough.”

I like sharing poetry.  I like writing poetry.  I like poetry.  I like when others write and share with me.  But I think poetry competitions are stupid.  Still, the stupid thing known as poetry slams (poetry performance competitions) attract poets, audiences, energy, attention, and excellence.  And none of that is stupid.

Last night I won my third poetry slam.  I have won in Portland, Little Rock, and Springfield now.  I’ve taken a second in Austin, a third in Omaha, and plenty of the prior in Portland.  I have featured at slams in Jackson and Pittsburgh.  I have also lost even more poetry competitions.

I will never feel that I am the worst poet, nor the best.  I will not focus on that.  I may never even feel that I am validated as a poet.  What I know is that I need to write.  I need to express.  I need to ingest others’ expressions.  So I show up, anywhere and everywhere, in houses, on street corners, in bars, churches, parks, cafes, and schools.  Sometimes–only some of the time–I show up at a poetry slam.  And the moment I walk in the door, I cannot care what happens beyond sharing the best I have and want to share, without apology.  I love you.

Rome and Rome

Rome and Rome

Leaving Nashville, I navigated through Chattanooga, TN down to Rome, Georgia.
I had already visited Rome, New York, the town of my earthly beginning.

Though both towns are small in stature and population, each had its own charm and treasures.

I didn’t plan to go to Rome, New York.
I was on my way to visit my Grandmother en route to a show in Western New York.  Instead of taking I-86, I drove I-87, a tollway with few exits.  I ended up far North from where I had intended and decided to keep going.  I had friends celebrating their wedding in Rochester, and I might have made it on time.  On the way there, I noticed signs for Rome.
And I decided to at least pass through this place of my birth.

I hadn’t been there since 1985 or 1986, and I have no memories of it.

Seeing it for the first cognizant time this Summer was a contemplative experience.
I wondered about humans, if we, like salmon, will find our way to the place of our birth.
Salmon reproduce there.  I did none of the such.
But, I wondered about the climate, landscape, atmosphere, culture.  I wondered if I belonged here.
Though I would have liked to, I did not stay long enough to find out.

Nearly a month later on tour, I arrived in Rome, Georgia.  The people were kind, welcoming, and supportive.
I went to the Rome history museum and saw old pianos, guns, medical instruments, photos, maps, and clothing.  It was again a reminder of the stories others have lived in the South: inhuman horror juxtaposed with wealthy leisure, struggles and celebrations, abundance and scarcity.  I am grateful for the chance to remember and consider.
A restaurant server at the Harvest Moon Cafe told the cook I was from Portland.  He came to the table and paraphrased a Portlandia skit about the background of my food.  People.  And I’m only half way.



I was shown excellent hospitality in Nashville, Tennessee.  Chris Hayzlett hosted a great house show with Rihenna Downey, Jasmine Commerce, Beards, and I.  People responded well and it was an enjoyable night.  Rachel, Tyler, and Beth invited me to rest at their house and eat their array of ice creams and hummus dips.  And, the next day, while running errands, I was taken to…The Parthenon.  Well, Nashville’s replica.  Here, you can see me imagining what it would be like to push over the pillars and collapse the might stone structure.  It didn’t happen.  Instead I had a great time, then went on an awesome bike ride with Nathan Conrad aka Spoken Nerd, eventually getting more exotic and delicious ice creams from Rachel’s ice cream shop.  I was grateful.

Feeling love from strangers made friends

Feeling love from strangers made friends

I feel loved.
A stranger told me the most amazing compliment.  Now he is a friend.

A stranger made me dinner.  Now he is a friend.  Now, I know his name.

A stranger called me white Jesus in his comedy routine.  We exchanged the shaking of hands.  Now, I know his name.

A stranger  told me he wants me around every week, that my poetry is money, that he would pay to transport me back.  I respect him.  I am honored.  I feel loved.

I am well fed, clothed, cleansed, and sheltered.  Not sheltered, imprisoned, incarcerated, enslaved–free.  Forgiven.  Opportuned.  Loved.

Punk rock

Punk rock

I like touring with punk rock bands.

The crowds don’t expect spoken word or slam poetry.  Many have never experienced it before.

In 2003/2004, south of Dallas, TX, Kim Sasser opened her mouth and poetry came out.  That was the first time I heard a spoken word poem.  Amazed, I knew it was something I wanted to cultivate (it sounded like my insides).

Last night, in East PA, several people felt something, heard something, felt awakened, told me about it, reminded me that there are multitudes waiting for the tools, the words, emotions–to get out what is trapped within.  They told me it came out.

Learning about myself on tour (these may be universal musings)

Learning about myself on tour (these may be universal musings)

I may be learning
that what I thought was intuition
is largely based on fear.

As I travel, I am faced hourly with decisions I would normally consider big.

When at home, started to review the stress I’m living with, sometimes is unbearable and it affects all of my life decisions, and considered many options that I’ve learned from the studies done in the most stressed state, sand now I’m considering each near and far trip to relieve some stress, each half-mile and ten mile venture:
will I walk, bike, drive, use public transportation, or not even go?

I spend a great deal of time at home strategizing about decisions.
On the road, I am facing not half-miles as often, but miles, hundreds of them.
These take lots of time.  These cost money and environmental pollution.
If I deliberate long, I miss opportunities.  Options dwindle.

Do I back track to Wisconsin? to Michigan? to Ohio?
Do I visit this friend? grandmother? city?  town?
Do I keep on my tour route on schedule even when I have nothing lined up in a city?
Should I try this open mic? slam? punk rock show?
Will it be better if I feature? compete? do neither?

When I travel a few hundred miles and all goes well, I am encouraged, overjoyed, grateful.
When I travel a few hundred miles and the show is cancelled, or no one purchases my book or donates to my road support, I question what happened?
What can I do to prevent this next time?  What can I do better?

Sometimes there is nothing better to do.
Sometimes I must only accept provision or the lack thereof.
Bounty or expense.
Sometimes I am offered a bed, a couch, a floor, or I offer myself the bed of my truck.

I am grateful the truck is functioning well.  All’s running well.  I got into a minor accident this week and thus was extremely late for a gig.  I am reminded to slow down, live honest, accept the present, and not worry or try to control the future or the unknown.

Peace is a gift.  It is ready to be received, accepted, held, embraced.

Worry, discontent, frustration, anger, fear, and pain are always also ready to be picked up, held, grasped, and meshed into the very fiber of our beings.  I do this until I remember that I don’t have to.  That it is my choice.

Big decisions about my location, transportation, financial risk, and relational interactions are challenges for me every day; touring comes with all of those decisions.  Touring solo means I face them mostly alone.  This makes it difficult to pack up and leave each and every city, going homeless again.  Many days I want to be home.  Sometimes this translates to wanting to visit family in their homes.  Sometimes this translates to wanting to go back to one of the places I have called home.  Sometimes this manifests in the desire to stake a claim in a new city as home.

But every day, no matter where I am, home must be inside of me.

I put my theology and my sanity to test every day.  I put my values and morals to test every day whether I want or mean to or not.  I am no super hero.  I am no super human.  I am a young man, learning what it means to be a man, learning how it hurts (myself and others) when I choose not to make good decisions, right decisions, sometimes hard decisions.  I am sorry.

It is hard to live in such a way so as not to have to apologize to anyone.  I want to live so as not to apologize to anyone (because I have nothing to apologize for).  I have yet to sustain this.  I want to sustain the responsibility, acceptance, humility, and confidence that are required to live this way.  This is the only way to live art, to be an artist, whether a rock star or a sidewalk busker.

Thus far, I choose to continue living toward these ideals.  I choose to continue the tour.  I believe in what I am doing, in these poems, in these connections and relational interactions.  I want to continue.  But I will need the help of friends in order to do so.

I am thankful for friends who receive my phone calls and messages when my heart breaks, or my windshield breaks, or my wallet, or my mind, or spirit break.  I am grateful for friends and family who receive my calls when I am excited and rejoicing in the surprises I get to experience every day of this tour.  And I am grateful for friends who open their homes and arms to me when I arrive where they are.  These keep me going.  These help sustain a season of sharing away from a home place, out on the road, whenever/wherever I decide to go and share next.



Poetry Slam is an interesting creature.  From Portland to NYC, people gather to share and hear their best/our best work.

In Portland, eight poets enter.  There are no scores, only audience applause, single-elimination, three rounds.

In Manhattan (on Wednesday nights), twenty poets enter.  There are judges and scores and only two rounds.

I had a great time sharing.  Brief.  Expensive.  But an experience.  A poet named Keith was my pick to win.  Didn’t happen.  Great work though.

I also got to reconnect briefly with Ken Arkind (great work).  And, I got to meet one of my favorite poets Jared Singer (excellent work too).

small town hungers

small town hungers

I went to a small town in Ohio last night.
Shared some poems.
A woman tackled, straddled, and began trying to hump me…
during my poetry set.

After freeing myself, surprised, I complemented this town’s exuberant expression of gratitude and smiling proceeded as best I could to continue the rest of the show.
Guess these people like poetry—hungry for more of it.

In the morning, I fed chickens, goats, and pigs.  They were hungry.  There were maybe thirty hens and one rooster.  The hens were not very nice to one another.  It was great going into a corn field to feed them.  Seems the chickens keep the weeds and climbers off the corn stalks and their poop and pee fertilizes the soil.  Great system.  Similarly, the goats (each with horns) were head butting one another, competing for the food.  There was plenty enough.  Ornery.

I went to a small town in Indiana this weekend.  A young woman immediately approached me, complementing my hair.
I suppose they don’t get to see as much diversity in fashion—hungry for it—at least dreadlocks.

I went to a concert festival in rural Illinois last week.  A number of new friends and acquaintances advocated for me, opening opportunities for me to share.  I felt honored—hungry for this advocacy.

I went to a barbeque restaurant in suburban Nebraska two weeks ago.
My brother devoured cinnamon butter sweet rolls and chicken—hungry, just plain hungry.

What do you hunger for today?

Who would have known?

Who would have known?

Yellow Springs, Ohio

This amazing place is a utopian oasis in the Midwest.  I’d not have guessed.
These people are radical!
Warm reception.  Close bonding.
Good connections.

Got to share a show with Seth Martin and The Menders and Insomniac Folklore.
In the morning, an amazing new friend made me breakfast from her garden and
we went and fed farm animals at Smaller Footprint/Lesser Footprint/Lower Footprint? Farm?

It was a great day!

July 4th…fifth and sixth…and seventh. Seventh. Towing the party line.

July 4th…fifth and sixth…and seventh. Seventh. Towing the party line.

Happy Fourth of July
from the road.
Tonight, I am camping next to a lake
in a tent, in Bushnell, Illinois.
The occasion: Cornerstone Festival.
I am tired, dirty, but grateful.
It is a challenge to articulate a place of wonder and unknowing
to those at a Christian Art Festival.
I agreed to the challenge.
I accept it.

Happy Fifth.
Two shows today.  Great reception.  Good times.  Met lots of new people.  Made friends.

July Sixth.
I woke to heat, burning through the thin white walls of my tent.  Slept maybe five hours.
Will remember to call it early tonight.

Big stage, big show tonight.  Short set; one poem.
Opened for Listener, Homeless Gospel Choir, and Flatfoot 56.
Flatfoot’s set was the most energized show I’ve ever seen.  Wild.  Pool party theme.  Wild.
Sold a lot of books.  Met and reconnected with cool people.
As a new poetess friend was leaving, I wiped my sweat embedded forehead on her bandana, as a parting gift.  J  She did not think this was as funny as I thought it was going to be.
A great day.

Saturday, July Seventh.
This is frustrating!  I hear so many tow the party line,
preaching the gospel standard
Where’s the growth in clutching the past?  An anchor never lifted.  A ship never to sail.
How can we live, love, speak,
when people (well meaning) all around us
want us to follow them in slavery
holding in faith to ideas and teaching like any and all religions do.
I want to stay the best course,
offer the best gift of love and sincerity.
I want truth
and reality.
Why must the most liberal criticize?
Why must the most religious criticize?
Here I am.  All I know.
All I know to do.

From a truck stop in Nebraska.

From a truck stop in Nebraska.

I am grateful to have met and connected with people in Southern Florida, Northwest Washington, New York City, and Southern California.  Wow.

I appreciate the connections, but wonder how deep we need to be connected to a few people where we are, where we live.

For now, I live wherever I am alive (on the road, visiting towns).
It is a peculiar, interesting, changing time.

From Portland to Salt Lake – June 25th Journal

From Portland to Salt Lake – June 25th Journal

Hello friends!

Today, driving past tons of open, dry, rocky fields

and narrow streams, I am reminded

by every irrigated sprinkler system.

I am reminded by every drop of sweat and every dry heave breathe,

that life comes from water

and heat is its companion…

so long as neither is domineering.

I enjoy the beauty of diversity,

but wonder why or how anything/anyone survives in the dessert.